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Three teachers kidnapped in southern Philippines

Gunmen have abducted three government schoolteachers in the southern Philippines in the latest in a series of kidnappings in the troubled region, police said on Saturday.

world Updated: Mar 14, 2009 10:22 IST
AFP

Gunmen have abducted three government schoolteachers in the southern Philippines in the latest in a series of kidnappings in the troubled region, police said on Saturday.

The three women were abducted by gunmen as they travelled in a motorboat off the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay late on Friday.

The kidnappers shot at their boat, forcing it to stop, said provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Pederico Castro.

The military deployed ships but was unable to locate the kidnappers.

No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnapping for ransom by pirates, armed groups and Islamic militants is a major problem in the southern Philippines.

A fourth teacher who was with the victims was identified by the gunmen as a Muslim and was left behind. He paddled the boat to shore and reported the incident, Castro said.

The kidnapping of the three teachers comes after gunmen seized three government teachers off Sacol island on January 23.

The abductors, who are believed to be Muslim rebels, have demanded a six-million-peso (130,000-dollar) ransom for the release of the first group of teachers, who are being held in the island of Basilan.

On nearby Jolo island, members of the Abu Sayyaf Islamic extremist group are holding hostage a Swiss national, an Italian and a Filipina who were abducted on January 15 while on a humanitarian mission for the Red Cross.

First Published: Mar 14, 2009 10:20 IST