Australian Man Kidnapped in Southern Philippines

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 3:10 am (UTC-5)
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Officials in the Philippines say suspected Islamist militants have kidnapped an Australian man from his home on the restive southern island of Mindanao.

Police and military officials say 53-year-old Richard Rodwell, a retired Australian army soldier, was abducted by several gunmen in the sparsely populated village of Ipil late Monday.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was aware of reports that an Australian was kidnapped in the Philippines, and said a task forces has been formed to deal with the issue.

Investigators say they found bloodstains at the scene of Rodwell's home, indicating a possible struggle with his captors.

Police in the Philippines suspect that the al-Qaida-linked Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf is behind the abduction.

The group is responsible for several recent kidnappings in the southern region of the Philippines, where minority Muslim rebels are fighting government forces for self-rule. The conflict began in the 1970s and has claimed at least 150,000 lives.

Monday's abduction took place in Zamboanga Sibugay province, where both Islamist rebels and criminal gangs are known to operate.