A Filipino-American was abducted by armed men late on Wednesday, September 16, in Sirawai (Zamboanga de Norte province; Mindanao region). The victim was riding a motorcycle with his wife in Barangay Piacan when four armed men wearing camouflage uniforms flagged him down. In the scuffle to abduct them, the wife managed to escape. The abductors are believed to have taken the victim to Barangay Tapanayan. A police operation has been launched to track down the assailants and free the victim. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, although the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is known to be active in the area and have carried out similar abductions in the past.
A heightened security presence is expected in the area over the near term.
Kidnappings in the southern Philippines frequently target European, American, ethnic Korean, and Chinese expatriates and tourists due to perceived wealth. Most abductions are financially motivated and are often linked with ASG.
Those in Mindanao region are advised to remain vigilant, vary daily schedules and itineraries, avoid overt displays of wealth, and refrain from sharing personal information with unknown persons to limit the risk of being targeted by potential kidnappers. If attacked, remain calm, do not offer resistance, and adopt a cooperative attitude. Do everything in your power to keep the situation as calm as possible (e.g. accepted offered food, engage in conversation initiated by your captors, avoid all political or potentially inflammatory topics, etc.).
Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to ongoing terrorist activity and regular clashes between the military and insurgent groups. Authorities advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.
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