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Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Analysis: Philippines kidnapping 'industry'
Dos Palmas resort,  25 km from the capital city of the western island of Palawan
The latest kidnapping scene: An apparently idyllic resort
By John Maclean in Manila

Kidnapping for ransom is so common here that the Philippines has often been described as the kidnapping capital of the world.

Often the abductions are carried out by armed men who say they are Muslim separatist rebels.


The Abu Sayyaf makes an industry out of kidnapping

For more than three decades, guerrillas belonging to the Muslim minority have been fighting for independence for their homeland in the south of this predominantly Christian country.

But when such groups embark on a kidnapping spree their motives are not necessarily political.

A lucrative business

The government is trying to revive peace talks with the main Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF.

Although the authorities have occasionally accused the MILF of carrying out the abductions, the group says it never uses such tactics.

Philippines tourism secretary Richard Gordon briefs reporters after the latest kidnapping
Philippines tourism secretary Richard Gordon
In contrast, a much smaller armed group, the Abu Sayyaf, makes an industry out of kidnapping.

Last year it abducted dozens of Filipinos and foreigners and collected millions of dollars of ransom.

The Abu Sayyaf say that it too is fighting for Muslim independence but although many of its members are former guerrillas there is very little that is political in any of their escapades.

When the government describes it simply a gang of bandits, its description is quite accurate.

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See also:

27 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines hostage search begins
01 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hostage drama highlights bitter conflict
02 May 00 | World
Analysis: How hostages cope
02 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Abu Sayyaf hostage-takers?
16 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Neglect fuels Philippines conflict
27 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines rebels agree truce
12 Sep 00 | Middle East
Libya hands over Jolo hostages
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