Sri Lankan peace activist kidnapped in Philippines

A Sri Lankan peace activist became the latest victim of a wave of kidnappings in the southern Philippines blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants, officials said Friday. Omar Jalil, 36, from the nonpartisan group Nonviolent Peaceforce, which has been monitoring a decades-old Muslim separatist uprising in the Philippines, was taken by nine gunmen from his residence in coastal Lamitan town on Basilan island early Friday, said Basilan police chief Salik Macapantar. The Filipino caretaker of the house managed to escape unharmed even as the gunmen opened fire, he said. The caretaker was guiding the navy and marines in combing the jungle hinterlands of Lamitan to try to locate the hostage, said the provincial vice governor, Al-Rasheed Sakalahul.