Military task force created to rescue resort owners

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    THE Armed Forces has formed a task force that will rescue a British businessman and his Filipina wife who were abducted from their resort in Zamboanga del Sur on Friday night.

    Allan Hyrons, 70, and his wife Wilma were snatched by at least six men from the Hyrons Beach Resort in Barangay Alindahaw, in Tukuran town at around 6:50 p.m. on Friday. The kidnappers escaped with the victims on board a motorboat.

    Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Zamboanga City-based AFP Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana ordered the establishment of the Joint Task Force Hyrons specifically “to effect the rescue” of the couple.

    Encinas said there was no indication yet that the bandit group Abu Sayyaf was behind the kidnapping. The group, which operates mainly in Sulu and Basilan, has taken hostages from the Zamboanga provinces.

    Encinas surmised the kidnapping was perpetrated by a lawless group in Zamboanga del Sur.

    As to the whereabouts of the suspects and the victims, Encinas said, “As of this time, we are looking at some areas but we cannot divulge it so as not to compromise our ongoing operations.”

    “But they are still within Zamboanga del Sur, that’s why we created a joint task force primarily to rescue the couple,” he said.

    The task force is headed by Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga del Sur. It will have tactical control over the joint task forces Basilan, Zampelan (Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao provinces), and Tawi-Tawi for the couple’s recovery.

    Reports said the suspects checked in at the resort and seized the couple at gunpoint when the victims arrived. The victims were later taken to the beachfront where the motorboat, manned by two more suspects, was waiting.