ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A Japanese national was abducted by still unidentified suspects in the province of Sulu, south of this city, on Friday, a military official said.

Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) information officer Steffani Cacho said the victim, Amer Katayama Mamaito, was kidnapped around 1 p.m. Friday at Sitio Bas in the village of Bangkilay, Pangutaran town.

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Cacho said no other details were available except that Mamaito was abducted by more or less 10 unidentified gunmen.

Wesmincom chief Benjamin Mohammad Dolorfino confirmed that there are no other details at hand.

"The information that we have now came from the police. I had the kidnapping checked by our forces there," he said.

Dolorfino said that based on initial information gathered, Mamaito is involved in treasure hunting for the past years.

"He (Mamaito) is engaged in treasure hunting and is living in Sulu for over five years already," he said.

Dolorfino said they still have no suspect in the kidnapping, but they are not discounting the possibility that the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is behind it.

Dolorfino ordered the military troops in Sulu to track down the whereabouts of the victim and to identify the suspects.

Investigation is still ongoing to establish the suspects' identities and group affiliation, said Cacho.

The Abu Sayyaf has been involved in high-profile kidnappings not only in Sulu but in other areas in Mindanao.

Pangutaran is one of the seven island municipalities in Sulu and is a fourth class municipality with 16 villages.

Cacho said Pangutaran is not a known area of operation of the Abu Sayyaf but said she would not be surprised if some of the group's elements would operate in the town. (Bong Garcia/PNA/Sunnex)