A British national and his Filipina wife have been abducted from a resort in the southern Philippines.
Armed men took the couple from a resort they own in Tukuran town, Zamboanga Del Sur, at 6.50pm on Friday.
The man is a dual national who has lived in the province, where he and his wife own and operate several businesses, since 2013.
A police spokesperson, Maj Helen Galvez, told the Guardian two of the suspects checked into the resort a day before the abduction and waited for the couple to arrive.
“They own a lot of properties and business so they are always moving. The suspects waited for the victims to arrive at the resort,” Galvez said.
More gunmen arrived and entered the resort on Friday, taking the couple to the shore, and forcing them into two motorboats. The vessels left in two directions but it was not clear if the couple were in one boat or were separated.
The military alerted its forces and was coordinating a search operation with police, according to a local military spokesperson, Capt Clint Antipala.
Security forces have not identified the group behind the abduction and no one has claimed responsibility.
The region is home to numerous armed groups including Abu Sayyaf. The highly factionalised group has some leaders who are focused on kidnapping foreigners for a ransom, while others have recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State. The group has been responsible for suicide bombings in the region.
A trilateral patrol agreement between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia in the Sulu Sea, which surrounds island provinces where Abu Sayyaf mainly operates, has reduced kidnappings in recent years.
There have been no kidnappings on the Zamboanga peninsula, on mainland Mindanao, in recent years.
“It’s been a while since an incident of kidnapping happened in our area. We are alarmed,” Galvez said.