MANILA, Philippines – Gunmen abducted 12 villagers in a remote southern Philippine town in a feud possibly stemming from clan rivalry in recent local elections, police said Tuesday.
The villagers were returning from a fishing trip Saturday on volatile Basilan Island, where al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants are active, when about 10 men intercepted them and forced them at gunpoint to the nearby town of Al Barka, said regional police chief Ben Latag.
He said no group had claimed responsibility and investigators were looking at clan rivalry as a possible motive for the kidnapping. A police report said the gunmen were demanding a ransom and guns for the release of the villagers.
A local crisis committee was established to deal with the kidnappers.
Ransom kidnappings are common on Basilan and elsewhere in the south, where Muslim militants have fought for self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades.
The United States has declared the 400-strong Abu Sayyaf a terrorist group and the Philippine government is seeking court approval to do the same.
The militants have kidnapped Americans and other foreigners in the past, and gained notoriety for bombing and beheading some of their captives.