Unidentified gunmen abducted a Filipino doctor from his home in Jolo (Sulu province) on Tuesday, February 4. According to police officials, four armed men broke into the victim's home around 19:00 (local time) and drove off in a vehicle towards the town of Indanan. After receiving reports of the incident, security forces launched pursuit operations to rescue the doctor. Additional security checkpoints have also been set up around Jolo as of Wednesday, February 5, to prevent the kidnappers from leaving the area.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnapping; however, local officials have accused Abu Sayyaf of carrying out the abduction. An increase in security operations is possible over the coming days to rescue the victim.
Kidnapping is common in the southern Philippines where insurgent groups are known for kidnapping people for ransom.
Abu Sayyaf is a radical Islamist group and Islamic State (IS) affiliate that has been involved for years in kidnappings, bombings, and various other violent activities in southern and western Philippines, particularly in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawa-Tawa, and Palawan. The group is known to conduct kidnapping raids and is estimated to have ten hostages, including four foreign nationals.
Individuals in the southern Philippines are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant and criminal activity, anticipate continued military operations, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. As a reminder, several Western governments advise against travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago due to the risk of kidnapping and terrorism.