Gunmen in Philippines kidnapped an Italian restaurant owner after posing as customers on Wednesday. 

This is the second incident of abduction of foreigners by gunmen in Philippines' restive southern region in weeks. 

On Wednesday, former Catholic priest Rolando del Torchio was kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in front of a crowd eating at his pizzeria in Dipolog city in Philippines' Zamboanga del Norte province, AFP reported. 

Four of the six suspects reportedly posed as customers at the Italian restaurant and dragged him into a van from where he was taken to a motorboat that was likely destined to the Abu Sayyaf-controlled Jolo island. 

"All kidnappings in the peninsula end up in Jolo. That's the pattern. Hostages taken in the area are eventually turned over to the Abu Sayyaf," Captain Roy Vincent Trinidad told AFP.

The kidnapping comes weeks after three foreigners, including two Canadian tourists, a Norwegian resort manager and a Filipino woman, were abducted from a popular resort on 21 September. 

The four have still not been traced. 

Philippines launched navy ships and air force helicopters on Thursday to search for the kidnapped Italian.