World

Philippines: Japanese treasure
hunter abducted

Gunmen abducted a Japanese man who claimed to be a medical doctor also engaged in treasure hunting on a remote southern Philippine island, but it was not known if al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants were involved, a regional military commander said Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said Amer Mamaito Katayama was reported snatched by at least 10 gunmen in the village of Bangkilay on southern Sulu province's Pangutaran island township.

Dolorfino said the kidnappers had taken Katayama to another island close to Pangutaran and a navy ship had been deployed to the area.

"Our effort is to prevent them from taking him to the mainland," he told The Associated Press.

He was referring to Jolo - the biggest island in the Sulu archipelago and a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, about 590 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila.

Katayama lived for some time in the predominantly Muslim city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province on the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao before moving to Pangutaran in 2004, Dolorfino said.

"He claims to be a doctor and established a clinic in Pangutaran and he is also engaged in selling cheap generics medicines," Dolorfino told the AP. "There is a report that he is also engaged in treasure hunting."

He said Katayama is 63 years old and had converted to Islam, adopting the name Amer.

He said Katayama, who locals called "Dr. Amer," transferred his clinic from the town center of Pangutaran to Bangkilay, the village where he was kidnapped, a month earlier.

Japanese Embassy consul Kenji Endo told the AP the embassy could not confirm the nationality of the abducted man.

Dolorfino said the military has no suspects yet. He said government troops, including Philippine marines stationed on the island, have joined the search for Katayama.

Lt. Stephanie Cacho, a military spokeswoman, said Pangutaran is not a known area of operation of the Abu Sayyaf. Cacho, however, said she would not be surprised if some of the militants operate in the town.

Abu Sayyaf, notorious for kidnappings and beheadings, has received funds from al-Qaida.Philippines: Japanese treasure hunter abducted Eds: Updates with kidnappers taking victim to another island.[
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Gunmen abducted a Japanese man who claimed to be a medical doctor also engaged in treasure hunting on a remote southern Philippine island, but it was not known if al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants were involved, a regional military commander said Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said Amer Mamaito Katayama was reported snatched by at least 10 gunmen in the village of Bangkilay on southern Sulu province's Pangutaran island township.

Dolorfino said the kidnappers had taken Katayama to another island close to Pangutaran and a navy ship had been deployed to the area.

"Our effort is to prevent them from taking him to the mainland," he told The Associated Press.

He was referring to Jolo - the biggest island in the Sulu archipelago and a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, about 590 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila.

Katayama lived for some time in the predominantly Muslim city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province on the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao before moving to Pangutaran in 2004, Dolorfino said.

"He claims to be a doctor and established a clinic in Pangutaran and he is also engaged in selling cheap generics medicines," Dolorfino told the AP. "There is a report that he is also engaged in treasure hunting."

He said Katayama is 63 years old and had converted to Islam, adopting the name Amer.

He said Katayama, who locals called "Dr. Amer," transferred his clinic from the town center of Pangutaran to Bangkilay, the village where he was kidnapped, a month earlier.

Japanese Embassy consul Kenji Endo told the AP the embassy could not confirm the nationality of the abducted man.

Dolorfino said the military has no suspects yet. He said government troops, including Philippine marines stationed on the island, have joined the search for Katayama.

Lt. Stephanie Cacho, a military spokeswoman, said Pangutaran is not a known area of operation of the Abu Sayyaf. Cacho, however, said she would not be surprised if some of the militants operate in the town.

Abu Sayyaf, notorious for kidnappings and beheadings, has received funds from al-Qaida.

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