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Southeast Asia, explained

Philippines kidnapping 02 02 2012Enlarge
Philippine marines patrol a highway in the southern island of Mindanao on April 14, 2010 as they continue their hunt for militants. (Therence KOH/AFP/Getty Images)

A pair of birdwatchers -- one Swiss, one Dutch -- appear to be in the hands of Filipinos hoping to sell them off to Islamic militants, according to the AFP.

The Tawi Tawi archipelago, the scene of the kidnapping, is not the safest place to scan the skies for rare birds: the waters lie close to regions partly controlled by guerrillas who frequently snatch up foreigners and demand ransoms.

The two were taken from a boat while a Filipino guide jumped out and swam to safety.

Suspicion naturally falls on Islamic militants, particularly an al-Qaeda-linked group called Abu Sayyaf. Another, larger group -- the Moro Islamic Liberation Front -- is currently negotiating peace with the government and is less likely to pull off a sancitoned kidnapping at this time.

According to Philippines-based outlet GMA, a Filipino military colonel says they can't "rule out the possibility that Abu Sayyaf is involved ... However, I must stress there are other armed groups, including pirates, who also operate in these waters.


 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/philippines-kidnapping-european-birdwatchers-likely-sold-

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