Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET on 2019-10-18
The gunmen who abducted a British national and his Filipina wife are believed to have demanded 50 million pesos (almost U.S. $1 million) in exchange for their freedom, a Philippine military official said Thursday.
This came as the Philippine Coast Guard announced it had deployed its anti-terror unit and a high-speed boat to beef up the military’s search-and-rescue mission in the porous coastlines of the Zamboanga peninsula in the southern Philippines.
“There were groups relaying the demand … amounting to 50 million pesos,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the regional military chief, said.
Allan Arthur Hyrons, 70, was snatched by armed men at a beach resort in Zamboanga del Sur province two weeks ago along with his wife, Wilma Paglinawan.
Sobejana told reporters that information of the ransom demand was based on intelligence information.
Sobejana also said the abductors and their captives are believed to be hiding in the vicinity of Zamboanga peninsula, where troops have fanned out to locate them.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, although military officials had blamed the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants for previous kidnappings in the region.
Malaysia: Kidnappers of Indonesian fisherman seek ransom
Meanwhile, the unidentified abductors of three Indonesian fishermen who were snatched off the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah have also demanded ransom, according to Sabah Police Commissioner Omar Mammah.
Malaysian police earlier reported that seven armed men kidnapped Samiun Maniu, 27, Maharuydin Lunani, 48, and Muhammas Farhan, 27, from their fishing trawler last month. The kidnappers sped away in two pump boats with their hostages toward the Tawi-Tawi islets before heading toward Jolo island, a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants, Malaysian authorities said.
Malaysian newspapers have described Eastern Sabah as one of the most dangerous areas in the country in which piracy and kidnapping have taken place after the infamous Sipadan island kidnapping incident 19 years ago in which suspected Abu Sayyaf members snatched dozens of people, mostly tourists.
Citing intelligence information, Hazani Ghazali, chief of Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Security Command, told BenarNews that the fishermen were being held in Indanan town in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.
“I can’t say who exactly the kidnappers were,” he said.
Zam Yusa in Sabah, Malaysia contributed to this report.