In the island garden city of Samal in Davao in the Philippines is a picture perfect dream of a small resort named Oceanview. Tourists from Europe and Japan love it there.
This resort turned into a place of horror on Tuesday, when tourists from Canada, the manager of the resort (a Norwegian), and a Filipino woman were kidnapped and forced onto an outrigger at gunpoint and taken from the resort.
This was according to a report by AP. The victims were identified as John Ridsel and Robert Hall from Canada, and the resort manager is Kjartan Sekkingstad. The Filipino woman has not yet been identified.
The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said the federal government is aware of reports that Canadians were kidnapped in the Philippines and is “pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information.”
Two Japanese resort guests unsuccessfully tried to intervene before the gunmen escaped with their hostages aboard a motorized outrigger from Samal Island near Davao City.
The gunmen appeared to have specifically targeted the victims when they entered the Oceanview Samal resort before midnight on Monday located at the northern tip of the island, about 975 kilometers southeast of Manila.
A naval blockade was set up around the island to stop the kidnappers from reaching Basilan Island farther to the southwest where the militants have strongholds where they keep hostages while negotiating ransoms.
Militants in this region are still holding other hostages, including two Malaysians, a Dutch bird watcher that was kidnapped nearly three years ago, and a town mayor.
According to statements from military sources, the gunmen spoke English and Tagalog, but the group’s affiliation was not yet known. There were 30 foreign tourists at the resort at the time of the attack.
Navy ships have been deployed to search for the gunmen’s boat, as well as for potential landing sites in southeastern Mindanao.
In 2014, a peace agreement with the largest Muslim rebel group in the south ended 45 years of conflict that had killed about 120,000 people and displaced 2 million in the Davao region. Up until recently, the region had been relatively peaceful for over 10 years.