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Indian man kidnapped in Philippines—police

/ 10:24 PM June 23, 2011

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines—An Indian man was kidnapped while visiting a southern Philippine island known to be a hotbed of Muslim extremist militants, police said Thursday.

Four armed men seized Biju Kolara Veetil, 36, on Wednesday night while he was visiting his Filipina wife’s relatives on the troubled island of Jolo, local deputy police chief Chief Inspector Amil Baanan said.

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“At least four gunmen took the Indian from the (in-laws’) house and dragged him away. The couple and their two children were only visiting the woman’s family,” Banaan said, adding only Veetil was kidnapped.

He said that the motive for the kidnapping was not yet known.

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Jolo has been the scene of many kidnappings for ransom carried out by the Abu Sayyaf, a band of local Islamic extremists with links to the al-Qaeda terror network, as well as other Muslim militant gangs.

Last month, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped a Malaysian man in Jolo and demanded a P5-million ($115,500) ransom for his release.

Founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, the Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the country’s worst attacks, including a 2004 ferry bombing that left more than 100 people dead.

In one of their worst attacks, the Abu Sayyaf snatched three Americans and 17 Filipinos from a Philippine resort in 2001, an incident that resulted in a gruelling ordeal that lasted months and cost the lives of two of the Americans.

The group is also blamed for repeated abductions of foreigners, local businessmen and missionaries, typically to raise money through ransom demands.

It is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, and hundreds of American soldiers have been assigned to the southern Philippines since 2001 to train Filipino troops to crush the group.

However, aside from the Abu Sayyaf, other outlaw armed groups operate in the southern Philippines and also resort to kidnappings for ransom, extortion and bombings. Some are Muslim rebels but others are just criminals seeking money.

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Spokespersons at the Indian embassy could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday in regards to Veetil’s kidnapping.

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TAGS: India, Jolo, Kidnapping, Philippines
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