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Philippines: Gunmen abduct fisherman day after rescue of Filipino-Swiss businessman

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) — Gunmen abducted a fisherman Thursday in a southern city a day after authorities celebrated the safe rescue of a Filipino-Swiss businessman who endured two months of jungle captivity, officials said.

Vicente Barrios, 60, was returning to Zamboanga city after checking fish cages at sea when five men aboard two vessels blocked his motorboat and seized him. A companion of Barrios jumped into the water and swam to safety, police said.

Zamboanga city Mayor Celso Lobregat said that he would form a crisis committee to deal with the latest abduction. On Wednesday, Lobregat presented to the media Charlie Reith, who was rescued by navy commandos while being moved by his kidnappers to Zamboanga's far-flung Labuan coastal town.

"We really have to get these kidnappers otherwise this will go on and on," Lobregat told The Associated Press.

Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants and other allied armed groups have been blamed for several kidnappings for ransom in Zamboanga and the nearby islands of Basilan and Jolo in recent months, but it was not clear who was behind Barrios' abduction, police said.

Police Chief Inspector Ricardo Garcia said a search was under way for Barrios.

Reith, a 72-year-old businessman, was abducted by gunmen on April 4 from a beach resort in Zamboanga. Hours after his rescue, troops killed one of his suspected kidnappers but two others escaped by boat, the military said.

Reith, who has diabetes and a heart ailment, said he and his captors constantly moved on rough terrain across valleys and a mountain range. He said he was not aware which group abducted him and that he gave names to his abductors, including "Smoking Joe," who constantly puffed in the wilderness.

Authorities initially suspected the Abu Sayyaf was behind Reith's abduction. Rear Adm. Alex Pama, who helped supervise his rescue, however, said the kidnappers appeared to have been allied with another rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Abu Sayyaf militants are also notorious for beheadings and deadly bombings. The larger Moro rebel front has been fighting for Muslim self-rule in the south for decades.