MANILA, Sept. 5, 2013—-Suspected al-Qaida-linked gunmen have abducted two Church workers helping the Claretian missionaries in Southern Philippines yesterday.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad identified the victims as Frederick Banot, a community organizer, and Cherben Masong, who is a preschool teacher.

Both Banot and Masong have been working with the Claretians in helping Badjaos, an indigenous sea gypsy tribe and one of the most deprived and oppressed in the south, largely due to their lack of education.

Jumoad said a group of heavily armed men in the remote coastal town of Lantawan, Basilan, abducted the two at around 8pm on Wednesday.

According to the website of the Union of Catholic Asia News (UCANews), Banot and Masong were staying in the Claret Samal Foundation Inc. (CSFI) staff house when the abduction occurred.

Police reports also revealed that the gunmen stormed the house and dragged the two Church workers to a waiting watercraft.

Authorities were trying to locate the gunmen and their victims, the bishop added.

As of this posting, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but reports said the gunmen might belong to the Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for ransom kidnapping and other atrocities.

Basilan is a known bailiwick of the terrorist group. (CBCPNews)