3 foreigners, Filipina kidnapped on Samal Island

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Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Three foreigners and a Filipina were abducted by unidentified armed men in a resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte on Monday evening (September 21), the Armed Forces' East Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said on Tuesday (September 22).

The EastMinCom identified the kidnap victims as John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, both Canadian; Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian; and a Filipina only known as Tess. The four were abducted at the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort past 11 p.m.

Davao Region police said the two Canadians work for a multinational mining corporation, TVI Pacific, in Zamboanga del Norte.

Ridsdel is the country manager, while Hall is a geologist.

It added that a Japanese couple were injured.

The military said there were about 30 foreigners staying in the resort when the kidnapping happened. The manager was said to be a foreigner as well.

L-R: Kjartan Sekkingstad, John Ridsel, Robert Hall, and Marithes "Tess" Flor

Kidnappers were fully armed

Capt. Alberto Caber of the EastMinCom said that, based on CCTV footage of the resort, around 11 armed men carrying mostly short arms entered the dock area at around 11:23 p.m.

Senior Supt. Aaron Aquino of Police Regional Office 11 added that the kidnappers overpowered the resort's security guard.

He added that the suspects were said to be speaking in "carabao English," that is, a mix of English and Filipino.

The abductors reportedly sped off towards the nearby Pantukan area in Compostela Valley aboard two motorized bancas.

They left at around 11:30 p.m, according to Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, director of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office.

The police, military, and the Coast Guard dispatched several teams to track down the kidnappers.

Latest information from the police said that two motorized bancas were recovered on the shores of Tibanban in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental on Tuesday morning. The bancas were believed to be the ones used by the kidnappers.

Authorities are still conducting pursuit operations.

Nicolas Doire, spokesperson of Canada's Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, told CNN Philippines on Tuesday that the government of Canada were aware of reports saying that Canadian citizens had been kidnapped in the Philippines.

Doire said that Canada would pursue all appropriate channels to seek further information about the incident and that it would not comment or release information that might compromise the rescue efforts.

Task Group Oceanview

A special investigation task group called Oceanview was created, and both military and police were deployed to scout areas, especially the shoreline barangays of Davao Region, Gadingan said in an interview over CNN Philippines' Newsroom.

Aquino, who heads the task group, said the kidnappers could still in the region.

Gadingan said that, so far, no group had come out to claim responsibility for the abduction. He added that there were difficulty in identifying the armed men because of the low quality of images found in the CCTV footage.

"Wala pa pong grupo na umamin kung sino yung nag-abduct at wala pa rin po kaming na-a-identify na mga grupo because yung kuha po sa CCTV natin medyo malabo ng konti kaya we are still asking the cybercrime group to, at least, they enhance the video para maayos po yung pagtingin natin dun sa identity ng mga tao na nag-abduct po."

A note left by the kidnappers had the words: "Katarungan ng aming commander." It was allegedly signed by the communist New People's Army (NPA).

Aquino, however, commented that the note could just be a diversionary tactic to mislead investigators.

Judging from the firearms carried by the kidnappers, two of whom were armed with low-caliber firearms, while the rest carried short firearms, Gadingan said that they might not be from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

But he added that the task group was not discounting the fact that the kidnappers could have links with the ASG.

Relatives of the victims have not reported any demands for ransom. Gadingan, however, pointed out that the government has a no-ransom policy.

CNN Philippines' Ella Hermonio and string correspondent Ben O. Tesiorna contributed to this report.