By Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 20, 2014 - 12:00am
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Gunmen wearing military uniforms barged into a grocery in Barangay Labuan here, seizing three people including the shop owners Monday night.
The victims were identified as shop owners Joel Panes, 34, and his wife Michelle, 36, and Asbi Abirin.
City police director Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro said the kidnappers released Abirin while Joel escaped after he fought off his captors.
Village chairman Ronald Maravilla told police the kidnappers, whose faces were covered with bonnets and scarves, entered Panes’ shop in Purok 5 at around 7:45 p.m.
He said the gunmen pretended to be conducting a raid against illegal drugs.
Police said the suspects took food stuff and the store’s earnings amounting to P50,000
As they were escaping, the gunmen chanced upon another couple and grabbed the woman’s bag containing P100,000 in cash.
The gunmen escaped on a pumpboat.
Col. Andrelino Colina, commander of Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ), said the Naval Forces Western Mindanao is pursuing the suspects, who were believed to have escaped toward Sangbay Island off Basilan.
Passengers of a motorboat that arrived in Barangay Labuan hours after the incident claimed they saw a pumpboat heading toward Zamboanga del Norte.
Authorities believe the same group was responsible for previous kidnapping incidents in the area.