Two militants from the Filipino Islamist group Abu Sayyaf have been arrested by the Philippines' police and armed forces for their involvement in the kidnapping of an American teen and an Australian man.
Officials reportedly said Tuesday that security forces captured two people -- Jimmy Nurilla and Bakrin Haris -- while raiding their house in the port city of Zamboanga, where the militant group has conducted many attacks, Associated Press, or AP reported, adding that a manhunt is on for another militant who escaped during the raid. The kidnappers reportedly had explosives and rebel documents hidden in the house when they were arrested, AP reported, citing the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.
Nurilla is said to have kidnapped Kevin Lunsmann, then a 14-year-old boy who escaped from his captors in 2011 after being held for five months on Basilan Island, close to Zamboanga. In later recounts of his kidnapping ordeal, Lunsmann had said that he was taken by a speedboat to Tictabon Island where he was held captive. Nurilla also allegedly kidnapped Warren Richard Rodwell, a former Australian, who was freed last March near the provincial capital of Pagadian City.
Abu Sayyaf, founded in 1990 in the Basilan province, which lies 880 miles south of Manila, is linked to al-Qaida. The group has reportedly split into six factions across the country, and has about 300 armed fighters and has been linked to several kidnappings in the region.
Last week, Khair Mundos, a militant captured by Filipino troops, confessed he was receiving funds from al-Qaida. In 2009, the U.S. Department of State reportedly announced a bounty of about $500,000 for information that led to Mundos' capture. Mundos was first arrested in 2004 on charges of murder and escaped during his trial in 2007 before being picked up again last week by forces from an area near Manila’s international airport.
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In April, the group reportedly kidnapped two women from a Malaysian resort, who were rescued a month later by a joint force made up of security forces from Malaysia and the Philippines. On Monday, the group reportedly conducted another kidnapping where it got hold of a fish-farm worker and his owner, who were forced on to a speed boat and are believed to have been taken to the southern Philippines, where Abu Sayyaf is based out of.