Philippine police have rescued two kidnapped Chinese mining prospectors and killed one of their abductors in a sting operation in the country’s south, a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Li Defeng, 43, and Yang Liguang, 48, were unharmed when police carried out the operation, which was disguised as a ransom payment drop, regional police deputy spokesperson Zena Panaligan said.
The two Guangxi province natives were seized at a friend’s home in the remote town of San Francisco on Mindanao island on Saturday by members of a kidnap gang that demanded a million pesos (about US$24,000) in ransom, she said.
“The two had been scouting for mining opportunities and probably attracted the attention of the gang,” Panaligan told reporters.
A Filipino friend of the Chinese agreed to deliver the ransom money on Monday as part of the sting operation, but the suspects recognised one of the undercover officers and opened fire, Panaligan said.
The shootout left one of the suspects dead, while the rest of the gang fled, leaving their two hostages and the ransom untouched, police said.
The Chinese men’s local female guide had also been abducted, but was freed unharmed on Sunday, the spokeswoman added.
Panaligan said the abductors were members of a local gang that had also been linked to a string of robberies in San Francisco, a town near a gold rush site.
Kidnapping for ransom is rampant in parts of Mindanao, the country’s southern third where various armed groups, including Muslim insurgents, have operated for decades.
At least five foreigners – a Dutchman, a Swiss national, an Australian, a Malaysian trader, and a Japanese man – are believed to still be held by militants and other outlawed groups in the south since 2010.