Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants abducted a chief mechanic and killed his assistant, who tried to run away, in a heavily secured provincial government compound in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.
About 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen breached a perimeter wall of the Sulu provincial government compound late Saturday and took chief mechanic Ronald Pelegrin at gunpoint from the motorpool under cover of darkness, said Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, who heads Sulu’s police forces.
The gunmen also tried to seize Pelegrin’s deputy, Dante Avilla, but the latter resisted and was shot and killed by the militants when he tried to run away. A mobile police force unit stationed in a nearby building failed to stop the attack by the gunmen, who fled through a hole in a fence that they also used to barge into the compound, Orbita said.
Such brazen attacks on government personnel and unarmed villagers in Sulu and outlying island provinces have kept the Abu Sayyaf a major national security concern despite crippling battle setbacks dealt by more than a decade of U.S.-backed Philippine offensives. Aside from ransom kidnappings, the militants are also notorious for beheadings and bombings.
More than 300 Abu Sayyaf militants, split into factions, remain active in Sulu, a poor, predominantly Muslim region 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila, and in outlying islands and provinces.
The militants still hold several Filipino and foreign captives in their jungle bases, according to the military.