Search for kidnap victims extends all over Mindanao

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From left: Kjartan Sekkingstad, John Ridsel, Robert Hall, and Tess Flor

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — The search-and-rescue operations for four kidnap victims, three of whom are foreigners, has been extended all over Mindanao.

Joining the operations are the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, the Tactical Operations Group 11 of the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom).

Capt. Alberto Caber, EastMinCom spokesman, said operations were no longer limited to the Davao Region, fueling speculation that the victims could have been taken out of the main island of Mindanao to Basilan.

However, Senior Supt. Aaron Aquino, former head of Task Force Oceanview, said he believed that the kidnappers and their victims — Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Tess Flor — were still in the region.

Meanwhile, the police have released a sketch of one of the kidnappers.

Chief Supt. Federico Dulay, the current head of Task Force Oceanview, said evidence that might lead to identification of the kidnappers was being gathered and they were looking into all angles concerning the incident.

A note left by kidnappers at the Oceanview Resort in Samal Island cmaimed that the the New People's Army was behind the abduction.

TVI Pacific, Inc., a Calgary-based mining group that has operations in Zamboanga del Norte clarified that Ridsdel is no longer their country manager in the Philippines but a semi-retired consultant. Hall is a geologist.

Shirley Anthony, a TVI spokeswoman, told CNN Philippines that their company had launched an intense rescue effort to rescue the victims.

Nicolas Doire, a spokesman for Canada's foreign ministry in Ottawa, also told CNN Philippines that they were aware of the kidnapping but declined to comment or release information that might compromise rescue efforts or the safety of Canadian citizens.

Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad is said to be the brother-in-law of the owner of the resort, while Filipina Tess Flor is from Bukidnon and said to be Hall's girlfriend.