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3 foreigners, Filipina kidnapped from Samal Island resort


(Updated 5:07 p.m.) Gunmen kidnapped three foreign nationals and a Filipina from a resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte, Monday night.
 
Superintendent Lito Impas of the Samal Island police told RGMA Davao's Raul Tolibas that at least 20 armed men wearing balaclavas and black shirts stormed the Ocean View Resort in Barangay Camudmud, Babak district before 11 p.m.
 
The gunmen reportedly initially took six people, but a Canadian named Steven and his Japanese wife, Kazuka, were able to jump from the kidnappers' boat. The couple is now confined at a district hospital on the island.
 
The four kidnapped victims were identified as Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian and operations manager of the resort; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and his Filipina girlfriend identified only as Tess.

Davao del Norte police director Senior Superintendent Samuel Gadingan said kidnappers used two motorized bancas to conduct the abduction in a yacht.
 
"May yate kasi doon na nag-open ng live. Iyon ang pinuntahan noong grupo. Lumaban iyong dalawang mag-asawa. Napukpok nga ng ulo iyong isa. Tumalon sila sa dagat. Pagtalon nila sa dagat, ayun hindi na sila nakita," he said. 
 
The others were then kidnapped when they checked on the first victims after they heard the commotion.

Amateur movements
 
According to Gadingan, CCTV footage showed that the perpetrators seemed amateur. 
 
"May two long firearms at saka short firearms na iyong iba," he said. "Mabilisan lang pero tinitingnan  namin iyong video ng footage ng CCTV nila. Hindi naman ganoon ka-precise. Amateur iyong mga movements." 
 
Impas earlier said the kidnappers could be members of the New People's Army or a local bandit group called BAMA or Bangsamoro Army, a mix of breakaway members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
 
The kidnappers wrote the message: "Alay namin sa aming kumander" around the resort, before leaving with their captives.
 
Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of the public affairs office of the Armed Forces' Eastern Mindanao Command, said naval operations were ongoing to locate the kidnappers and their victims.
 
The local Philippine Coast Guard unit and the local police are also conducting pursuit operations.

A Reuters report quoted Nicolas Doire, a spokesman for Canada's foreign ministry in Ottawa, as saying that they were aware of the kidnapping but declined to comment or release information that "may compromise ongoing efforts and risk endangering the safety of the Canadian citizens abroad."
 
Shirley Anthony, a spokeswoman for Calgary-based TVI Pacific Inc, confirmed that Ridsdel, a semi-retired consultant, was among those taken by the gunmen. "We are still learning more about the situation," she said.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that an armed group attacked a posh resort in the Philippines. 
 
In 2001, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf tried but failed to abduct tourists from Samal Island's Pearl Farm. Three employees died when they engaged the raiding Abu Sayyaf men in a firefight.
 
Also in 2001, Abu Sayyaf bandits seized local and foreign tourists at the posh Dos Palmas resort in Palawan, including US missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham.
 
Returning to Basilan, the bandits took local hostages along the way, even escaping a military dragnet in Lamitan in June that same year.
 
The Dos Palmas hostage-taking drama ended June 2002 when government security forces stormed the bandits' lair in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte. At the time, three remained as hostages — the Burnham couple and Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap.
 
Martin and Ediborah, however, were caught in the crossfire. Gracia survived, but sustained a gunshot wound in her leg. — with Reuters and Trisha Macas/DVM/ALG/RSJ/JST, GMA News
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