Two Canadian tourists, a Norwegian resort manager and a local woman, were abducted by gunmen on Monday night from a famous tourist resort in the southern Philippines, military confirmed.
According to army spokesman Captain Alberto Caber, a few armed men kidnapped four people from a resort on the island of Samal, near Davao City in Mindanao, and the attackers have not been identified.
“Four people were taken but we do not know what group was behind the attack,” Caber told reporters.
The abducted tourists have been identified as, John Ridsel and Robert Hall from Canada, and a Norwegian resort manager named Kjartan Sekkingstad.
The Filipino woman has not been identified yet.
Authorities told other tourists not to leave the resort.
“It appeared the foreigners were the targets, they were not taken at random,” Caber said.
According to military officials, the gunmen spoke English and Tagalog, which is the language spoken in the Philippines.
Authorities also stated that two Japanese tourists tried to prevent the kidnapping, but they failed.
The army has been stationed in the area to stop the kidnappers from escaping to other islands, where there are a few militant strongholds.
A similar incident had happened on the same island in 2001, when Al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf militants attempted to seize foreign tourists from the Pearl Farm resort. But, they failed when security staff intervened. Three security officers died during the clash with the attackers.
The island of Mindanao has experienced many attacks in the last few years, including kidnappings and killings. One of the largest groups in the region is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the most active is the movement of Abu Sayyaf, which is linked with Al Qaeda and is aiming to create an independent Muslim state in the country's south.
The Abu Sayyaf group is a militant group that was founded in the early 1990s, it is operating in the southern part of the country and is engaged in kidnappings, bombings and even beheadings in the region.