Philippines Searches for Hostages Taken at Gunpoint From Resort

Police and the military in the southern Philippines are searching for four hostages including three foreign men and a Philippine woman after gunmen raided a resort on Samal island and fled with their captives by boat, a regional police spokesman said.

About a dozen men stormed the Holiday Oceanview resort on Monday night and seized its Norwegian manager, Kjartan Sekkingstad, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and a woman whose identity isn’t known, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Captain Alberto Caber said by telephone on Tuesday. Caber didn’t say how authorities know the woman’s nationality.

Samal island is about 44 kilometers (27 miles) from Davao City, the commercial center of the Mindanao region where banditry and a four-decade Muslim insurgency have left as many as 200,000 people dead. Kidnappers in the region, including the Abu Sayyaf group, often take hostages for ransom. Caber said no suspects have been identified.

Authorities are addressing the abduction incident and will ensure the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic forum leaders’ meeting in November won’t be affected, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in an e-mailed statement. The government will enforce security measures to ensure the safety of delegates, it said.

Police and the military are coordinating to hunt down the kidnappers, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma told reporters in Manila. President Benigno Aquino is monitoring efforts to pursue the suspects, he said.

Police, the navy and army are pursuing the gunmen, who fled with their captives in a motorboat toward Pantukan town in Compostela Valley province, Southern Mindanao police spokesman Superintendent Antonio Rivera said in a mobile-phone message. Authorities are using a plane and a helicopter to scour nearby islands for the suspects and their victims, he said.

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