At least 6 armed men behind abduction of British national, wife in Zamboanga del Sur

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 5) — Authorities say at least six armed men are involved in the abduction of two resort owners in Tukuran town, Zamboanga del Sur. 

Police Major Helen Galvez, spokesperson of the Zamboanga Peninsula regional police, told CNN Philippines that two of the suspects checked in as guests at the Hyrons' Beach Resort owned by the victims Allan Hyron, a British national, and his Filipina wife Wilma.

Police said at around 7 p.m. on Friday, four gunmen abducted the couple who were about to alight from their vehicle upon arriving at the resort. They were then dragged to the beachfront, where two other suspects were waiting in a motorboat. Authorities believe the victims were brought to the adjacent area of Lanao del Norte.

The Zamboanga Peninsula regional police are coordinating with the military, as well as authorities in Lanao del Norte to track down the suspects and rescue the victims.

"Nakakausap na rin natin yung MILF leaders," Galvez said, referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the former rebel group that signed a peace deal with the government. She said they have sought the MILF's help in the search for the victims.

[Translation: We have talked to MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) leaders," Galvez said.

Galvez stressed it is premature to link the incident to any threat group, including the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnap-for-ransom activities.

Galvez said the Hyrons' case is considered an abduction, not kidnapping, since the family has not received any demand for ransom. Police have not identified any possible motive for the crime. The couple also owns the Hyron College Philippines in the same town.

Aside from the Abu Sayyaf, armed communist rebels also operate in the region, police said.