Gunmen free kidnapped teachers

2012-03-26 14:01

Zamboanga - Gunmen who kidnapped two male teachers in the restive southern Philippines freed their captives after a week-long pursuit by troops, the military said on Monday.

The men, Rene Somadang and Tino Sanchez, were recovered late on Sunday after they were abandoned near the town of Tagoloan on the southern island of Mindanao, regional army chief Colonel Daniel Lucero said.

"No ransom was paid and the release was due to our continuing operations," Lucero said. "The operation has not ended and we will see to it that the kidnappers will face the bar of justice."

The duo were snatched exactly a week ago by unknown gunmen while on their way to work.

The gunmen demanded some four million pesos ($93 000) for their release, authorities said.

Also last week, members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped a Filipina midwife elsewhere in the south, but freed her later, after local officials negotiated with the gunmen.

It was not clear whether any ransom was paid.

The Abu Sayyaf is one of several armed groups in the restive south who have turned to kidnapping for ransom to raise funds and often targeting foreigners.

Seven foreigners - a Dutch man, a Swiss national, an Australian, two Malaysian traders, an Indian married to a Filipina and a Japanese man - are believed to still be held by the Abu Sayyaf and other outlawed groups.

US troops have been based in the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops to track down the Abu Sayyaf.