MANILA – A niece of a retired police general was abducted by armed men in Zamboanga City on Wednesday evening.
Sabrina Ikbala Voon, 28, was forcibly taken by about 10 armed men inside her house in Sitio Pook in Barangay Mercedes at around 9 p.m.
Voon is a niece of retired Chief Superintendent Sukarno Ikbala, who had been assigned to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police and Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Police Office.
Al Kadip Sahim, Voon's relative, said the abductors knocked on their gate and introduced themselves as policemen.
After the gate was opened, five of the 10 armed men immediately entered the compound and pointed their guns at the victim and her relatives who were sitting at a grotto.
Voon and her relatives were then asked to go inside the house.
According to Nashra Damgo, also a relative of Voon, some of the abductors wore police uniforms.
One of the armed men fired his gun inside the house, but no one was hit. However, one of the suspects hit Voon's mother with a gun after she tried to fight back.
The armed men then forcibly took Voon, with a white van as their get-away vehicle.
Policemen immediately responded to the incident, and conducted a pursuit operation against the suspects.
They found the abductors' get-away vehicle abandoned at a dimly lit portion of Sitio Gapuh in Barangay Talabaan, just a few kilometers away from the victim's house.
A cap believed to be owned by one of the abductors was recovered inside the van. A press ID issued by the Zamboanga City during the implementation of curfew at the height of the siege involving Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels was also seen inside the van.
Police investigators suspect the ID is fake and a strategy of the abductors to mislead the authorities.
Some residents said they saw two persons alighting from the van and boarding another vehicle.
However, the residents failed to get the plate number of the second get-away vehicle which immediately fled the area.
In December last year, public school teacher Cathy Mae Casipong was also abducted by armed men in Barangay Limaong, Zamboanga City.
Casipong is still in the hands of her abductors. Ransom money is reportedly being demanded by the abductors in exchange for her freedom.
In Jolo, Sulu, couple Bonifacio and Claire Salinas were abducted by armed men in Barangay San Raymundo last February 16.
The couple were both employees of Jolo Water District.
A number of captives, including some foreign nationals, are still being held by kidnap-for-ransom groups in Sulu.
In his visit in Zamboanga City on Tuesday, Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima said they are now planning to create a task force that would focus solely on kidnapping cases in the region, especially in Sulu.
Purisima, however, declined to elaborate on the composition of the task force and what measures they will be adopting to prevent more abductions.