Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen kidnap Filipino doctor in southern Philippines

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MANILA, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen have abducted a Filipino doctor in the remote Jolo town in Sulu Province in the southern Philippines, the military said on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command, said the kidnapping of the victim, Daniel Moreno, brings to six the number of hostages being kept by the kidnap-for-ransom group.

Sobehana said four gunmen abducted Moreno around 7:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday inside his clinic in a village in Jolo town. "The perpetrators are Abu Sayyaf members," he added.

"Upon receipt of the information, we immediately launched pursuit operations. Meanwhile, our special units are ready to conduct safe rescue when the location is fixed," Sobejana said.

Wesmincom spokesman Major Arvin Encinas said more checkpoints have been set up in the area "to block possible ingress and egress points as of this time."

On Jan. 16, Abu Sayyaf men seized five Indonesian fishermen off Sabah, Malaysia and brought them to Sulu. Philippine troops recovered the boat the kidnappers used and killed one of their captors following a firefight in Sulare island in Parang town, Sulu two days later.

Abu Sayyaf Group is considered the smallest but the most violent of the extremist groups in the southern Philippines. The group, which has an estimated 400 fighters, is active in the impoverished island provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

The group is responsible for the series of kidnappings-for-ransom, deadly bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion in the Mindanao region.

The group, which has been terrorizing the Philippine southern region since the 1990s, preys on foreign tourists, businessmen and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia and hide them in Philippine jungles or remote islands. Enditem

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