2 balikbayans kidnapped in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Two balikbayans (visiting Filipinos) from the United States were abducted around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, on Tictabon Island, a barangay (village) located east coast of this city.
Senior Superintendent Edwin De Ocampo, Zamboanga City acting police director, identified the captives as Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, and her son, Kevin Lunsmann, 14. Mother and son arrived on Tictabon Island, from Virginia, US 13 days ago.
Mrs. Lunsmann was born in Tictabon but was adopted by an American couple when she was nine years old. She returned for a visit to her biological family.
The boy is her child by her German husband who is based in Virginia, said local police chief Nonito Asdai.
The husband was not known to be in the Philippines during the abduction, he added.
Deocampo said they were looking into one of the relatives, Romnick Jackaria from Basilan, as a suspect. He disappeared around the time the Lunsmanns were abducted.
Deocampo said on Tuesday that police have been looking into Jackaria’s possible involvement in the kidnapping “kasi [because] he just arrived yesterday [Monday] at Tictabon, stayed with the Lunsmanns when the incident [kidnapping] happened.”
Police details were sketchy but witnesses have informed authorities that the victims were brought in the direction of Basilan, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf about 20 kilometers to the south.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said the kidnapping was led by a certain “Commander Pula” who escaped with his men aboard two pump boats.
Quoting intelligence reports, Cabanbang said the victims were taken to Barangay Sengad, Tuburan in Basilan, Cabangbang said.
Pursuit operations are being conducted against the kidnappers, he added.
The Abu Sayyaf, made up of several hundred loosely organised bands, has been blamed for kidnapping foreigners and Christian missionaries as well as for the country’s deadliest bombing attacks.
The acting US embassy spokesman in Manila, Alan Holst, was unavailable for comment, a member of his staff told Agence France-Presse.
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