By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
Government forces are conducting house-to-house searches to determine the location of a town mayor thought to be held by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines, according to police and military authorities.
Gemma Adana was with her family, friends and visitors at her home in Taytay Manubo village when gunmen barged in April 6 and seized her, dragging her to a twin engine speedboat.
Sr. Supt. Jose Bayani Gucela, chief of the Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Police Office, confirmed to The Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday that the Naga town mayor had been turned over from her original kidnappers to the Abu Sayyaf.
They are reported to be demanding P100 million ($22.4 million) ransom in exchange for her safe release.
"Investigators continue to conduct house-to-house interviews to solicit relevant information to substantiate the facts," said Gucela. "Intel-driven operations and profiling of the suspected areas is ongoing."
Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma said he had received reports that Adana was taken to the Abu Sayyaf stronghold of Sulu and that the al-Qaeda-linked group were moving her around to evade capture.
“That is the modus operandi now. Somebody will abduct the subject and transport them to either Basilan or Sulu and then the ASG will take care from there."
Police are reported to have strengthened patrols in the seas of Zamboanga and Sulu in an effort to track down the kidnappers.
"Almost all kidnapping incidents utilize the high seas as their means, route of withdrawal and exit points. Other lawlessness like piracy, extortion, smuggling, illegal fishing, etc. are also rampant and unchecked due to lack of mobility assets," said Gucela.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is presently holding birdwatcher and Dutch national Ewold Horn, 73-year old Korean Hong Nwi Seong, and Chinese citizen Fujian Yahong Lim Tan.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.