COTABATO, January 9, 2011 (AFP) – Gunmen kidnapped a wealthy Chinese-Filipino trader outside a busy hotel in the southern Philippines, the latest in a rash of abductions in the area in recent months, police said Sunday.

The hotel’s security camera showed the men forcibly taking Yuloyu Lim Yu, 56, to a waiting getaway vehicle in Cotabato city late Saturday, regional police spokesman Chief Inspector Alexander Yap said.

“The security guard initially engaged with the kidnappers but they sped off,” Yap said.

He said the kidnappers’ vehicle was later recovered by authorities, but the whereabouts of the victim was unknown.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but several armed groups, including Muslim separatist rebels, are known to operate in the city and in nearby areas.

In October, gunmen seized Conchita Atienza Tan, 73, the wife of another wealthy trader in Cotabato.

A family driver and a bodyguard were killed when they traded fire with the suspects before they sped away. Tan however was subsequently freed after her family paid ransom.