Indian trader seized in Cotabato City
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2013 - 12:00am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – He survived a kidnapping attempt four years ago. But not this time as armed men succeeded in snatching Indian trader Mike Khemani here Tuesday night, leaving one of his bodyguards dead and another wounded. 

Responding policemen and members of the 1st Marine Battalion later found the kidnappers’ getaway car abandoned in a busy area in the city proper.

Witnesses said five men grabbed Khemani, 57, in front of Sugni Superstore along a busy street near the city’s old market and dragged him at gunpoint to a waiting car. 

Khemani owns Sugni Superstore, which has branches in Kidapawan City and in Kabacan town in the first district of North Cotabato. 

Two of the kidnappers traded shots with Khemani’s bodyguards, killing Abdul Kaura and wounding his fellow security aide, Mustapha Abdulrahim.

Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin, city police chief, said they are now in custody of the kidnappers’ black car with license plate MCW 692. 

Khemani was reportedly brought by his captors to a riverside district not far from the spot where he was snatched, and transferred him to a motorized banca, which sailed upstream to the city’s eastern area. 

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said their units in Maguindanao have been directed to help guard rivers crisscrossing the province to prevent the kidnappers from escaping deeper into the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta. 

Armed men tried to seize Khemani at the city’s uptown area about four years ago, but failed when police escorts of Judge Bansawan Ibrahim, who were near the scene, engaged them in a firefight, forcing them to retreat. 

Two of the kidnappers were reportedly wounded in the encounter. 

Fraternal brothers here of Khemani in the Free Masonry, among them Chinese merchants and local executives, have appealed to his captors to set him free, saying he is taking daily maintenance medicine for various ailments.

ABDUL KAURA DICKSON HERMOSO FREE MASONRY INFANTRY DIVISION JUDGE BANSAWAN IBRAHIM KHEMANI KIDAPAWAN CITY LIGUASAN DELTA SUGNI SUPERSTORE
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