A brief recent history.
Friday 4 October 2019. Authorities in the southern Philippines were searching for a British citizen and his Filipino wife after a group of gunmen abducted them from a beach town in Zamboanga del Sur province on Friday evening, the military said.
The victims were identified as businessman Allan Arthur Hyrons, and his wife, Welma Paglinawan-Hyrons, officials said. The couple was seized around 6 p.m. Friday (local time) by six unidentified gunmen from a seaside resort in the town of Tukuran.
“When the victims arrived at the resort, they were immediately abducted by the suspects and [put on] two motorized boats, which escaped separately,” according to an incident report by the army.
- Incidents in July 2019 resulted in at least 15 deaths in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. Previous clashes have resulted in bystanders being injured.
- On 28 June 2019, a dual suicide attack on a military base in Indanan in Sulu Province killed three civilians and three military personnel as well as the two attackers, with a further 22 people injured.
- Some hostages, including foreign nationals, have been murdered. A Dutch national was killed on 31 May 2019 after being held for 7 years.
- On 27 January 2019, 27 people were killed and many more injured as a result of bomb attacks at a Roman Catholic cathedral on Jolo Island in Sulu Province.
- On 31 December 2018 an IED exploded at the entrance to the South Seas shopping mall in Cotabato City killing two people and injuring many more.
A casket containing the body of Dutch national Ewold Horn, who was killed by his Abu Sayyaf captors, is seen inside a military aircraft before taking off from Jolo airport in the southern Philippines, May 31, 2019.
Muslim militants are known to operate in parts of the Philippine south, where foreigners have been the main victims of abductions in the region.
In May, Dutch national Ewold Horn was killed in a rescue attempt by the military, when soldiers engaged his Abu Sayyaf captors in a gunfight. He had been in captivity in the region since 2012. A Swiss national, Lorenzo Vinciguerra, who was abducted with Horn escaped after two years in captivity.
The Abu Sayyaf Group is the smallest of several armed groups that operate in the restive south, but it is considered the most brutal one. Three years ago, Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded two Canadian hostages and a German captive after their governments refused to pay ransoms for their release.
Travel to Mindanao is not recommended any more as the danger areas spread to Cebu, Dumaguete and north. These incidents can now happen throughout the Philippines.
Cover picture shows Robert Hall and John Ridsdel who were kidnapped with Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkinstad and his Filipino girlfriend in November 2015