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Americans kidnapped in southern Philippines
« on: July 17, 2011, 08:34:26 AM »
Kidnappers call US victims' kin: Philippine police
(AFP) – 11 hours ago


ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Kidnappers have contacted the family of two US citizens abducted in the Philippines to make an "unbelievable" ransom demand, the Filipino official handling the hostage crisis said Saturday.

The official, Zamboanga city Mayor Celso Lobregat, said the identity of the gunmen and the situation of the hostages, who also included one Filipino relative, was still unknown despite the phonecall.

"Contact has been made to the husband in the United States. And the contact was that that there is a demand," Lobregat told reporters in this southern port, adding that the call was made on Thursday.

"The call was very short and it was cut off (presumably by the kidnappers)," he said, adding there was no word if any deadline was set.

He described the demand made as an "unbelievable amount", without giving further details.

Filipino police said gunmen snatched Gerfa Lunsmann, 50, her 14-year-old son, Kevin, and her Filipino teenage nephew on Tuesday at a nearby island resort.

The woman was born in the area but left in her childhood for adoption in the United States, where she later married a US-based German man, local police have said.

The resort is a mere 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the coast of Basilan island, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamic militant group blamed for previous abductions of foreigners, as well as deadly bombings.

Apart from the militants, the near-lawless region is also home to Muslim separatist guerrillas, bandits and pirates.

Kidnapping of locals and foreigners for ransom occurs with alarming frequency in the area.

Lobregat said the information about the ransom demand was relayed by the US government to Filipino police who are searching for the kidnappers and their hostages. -- http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/



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