Gunmen abducted a Japanese treasure hunter in a remote southern Philippine island Friday but it was not known if al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants were involved, military and police officials said.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said Amer Katayama Mamaito was reported snatched by at least 10 gunmen in the village of Bangkilay on southern Sulu province's Pangutaran island township.
He said Mamaito is a treasure hunter who has lived in Pangurataran for five years. A police report said he is about 70 years old.
Japanese Embassy consul Kenji Endo told the Associated Press the embassy could not confirm the nationality of the abducted man.
Dolorfino, the regional military command chief, said the military has no suspects yet.
Southern Sulu and Basilan provinces are strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, but Lt. Stephanie Cacho, a military spokeswoman, said Pangutaran is not a known area of operation of the group. Cacho, however, says she would not would not surprised if some of the militants operate in the town.
Abu Sayyaf, notorious for kidnappings and beheadings, has received funds from al-Qaida.