Reynato Palermo Yanga, owner of the Top Spot coffee shop in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, was snatched from his cafe by five gunmen on Saturday, police said.
It was the second time Yanga was believed kidnapped by the terror group, said Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra, Sulu police chief.
On April 5, 2005, suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists abducted the businessman. He was subsequently released but it was not known if a ransom was paid.
Freyra said five men dragged Yanga from the coffee shop, fleeing on a motorcycle and a multicab. The multicab was later recovered by pursuing lawmen just outside Jolo but there was no sign of the victim or the suspects, Freyra said.
He said a search and rescue operation was launched by the police and military in the towns of Jolo, Patikul, Indanan and Talipao.
Yanga’s abduction came at a time the military has been attacking Abu Sayyaf positions in Basilan.
Since Monday, six bandits had been confirmed killed while one of their leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, may have been wounded injured when soldiers closed in on the Abu Sayyaf camp in Tipo-Tipo town, said Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
However, Dan Asnawi, the Basilan commander of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), disputed the military report. He said that two of his men were among those “who were hit” during the military operation.
But, Asnawi said the MILF had no plans of retaliating because “we know that we were not the target of the government forces.”
He said an MILF camp was only a kilometer away from the Abu Sayyaf hideout and soldiers may have mistaken the rebels for the terrorists.
The problem was “quickly settled,” he added.
Col. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade based in Basilan, said the objects of the operation in Tipo-Tipo were Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco and Abu Sayyaf leaders Puruji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon.
Galvez said Baco had moved from Sulu—where he had been based with Singaporean terror suspect Mauwiyah—to Basilan in February last year.