• Compiled from AP, Kyodo

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ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped a Japanese man in the southern Philippines, local police said Saturday.

Yasumitsu Hashiba, 48, was seized late Wednesday by about five masked abductors in the home of his Filipino wife. The house is in the remote coastal town of Lanuza in Surigao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao, about 800 km southeast of Manila, police Senior Superintendent Juliano Delacona said.

Hashiba, a Tokyo native who has run a store in Lanuza for the past year, was taken away in his car.

Delacona said police recovered the abandoned vehicle on Thursday in the neighboring province of Surigao del Norte, about 130 km away.

Although unconfirmed reports claim the kidnappers are demanding $40,000 in ransom, Delacona said no one has claimed responsibility and no ransom has been demanded.

Neighbors alerted police because Hashiba’s wife was apparently afraid to contact authorities after the abductors threatened to harm her husband, Delacona said. The wife was being questioned Saturday.

The southern Philippines is home to many armed groups, including local bandits, communist and Muslim rebels and the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group, which is notorious for kidnappings and killings.

Christians and foreigners have been the targets of kidnappers in other parts of Mindanao, but this was the first time a foreigner has been abducted in Surigao del Sur province, Delacona said.

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