2 American Women, 3 Others Kidnaped in the Philippines

Associated Press

Two American women and an Australian mother and her two daughters were kidnaped at gunpoint on a southern island, officials said today. One child was later released.

Americans Carol Allen and Tracy Rectanus were visiting Sulu Island 600 miles south of Manila, where they teach at Faith Academy, school officials said. Officials did not give hometowns or ages.

Also taken was Lynette Cook, 32, wife of a Protestant minister, and her daughters Cheree, 5, and Elise, 3. Elise was released unharmed late Tuesday, said Maj. Vitaliano Mulato, assistant chief at the regional military command.

The five were touring the island when they were stopped by gunmen who forced Cook's husband, the Rev. Steve Cook, out of the vehicle, then sped away with the others.

Officials suspected the gunmen were from a breakaway Muslim secessionist faction.

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