ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Gunmen linked to al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped Saturday a canteen manager in Basilan province, police reported Monday.
Basilan Police Director Antonio Mendoza identified the victim as Examinda Lindio, 43, who manages a canteen at Lamitan National High School and wife of a teacher of the said school.
Mendoza said Lindio was kidnapped by a group led by Pulah Montong, who is a known leader of a lawless group based in Barangay Langgung, Mohammad Ajul town and has strong ties with the Abu Sayyaf.
The victim had just collected P50,000 from a client of her sister’s loan business when abducted at gunpoint by Montong’s group.
The abduction was confirmed after relatives of the victim received a call from the kidnappers on Sunday asking for a ransom of P2 million.
The victim was earlier reported missing, Mendoza said.
Police said the incident took place around 4 p.m. in Idris Drive, Maganda village, Lamitan City.
Montong's group has taken Lindio to Barangay Langgung in Mohammad Ajul municipality, Mendoza said.
He said his office has already activated “Task Force Lindio” under the leadership of Chief Inspector Rolando Democrito to rescue or secure the victim’s safe release.
Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay has also activated a Crisis Management Committee (CMC) to work hand-in-hand with the task force in addressing the latest kidnapping case in Basilan.
Mendoza said the provincial police are ready to launch rescue operation, if so ordered by the CMC, adding that Furigay has communicated with Lindio’s family and has sent an emissary to negotiate with the kidnappers.
The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings and has reportedly given sanctuary to Indonesian terror suspects, including Dulmatin, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings who was killed by police in Indonesia last week.
On Sunday, the military reported that Khair Mundus, a bandit wanted by Washington, has become leader of a key faction of Abu Sayyaf.
Mundus has connections to funding donors from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. He has an ideological bent and has begun giving Islamic religious training to Abu Sayyaf fighters, the report said.
Washington has blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf, which has nearly 400 fighters, as a terrorist organization. US-backed offensives have killed or captured many of its commanders in recent years, leaving the group without an overall leader to unify its factions on Basilan, nearby Jolo island and Zamboanga Peninsula. (Bong Garcia/With AP/Sunnex)