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Armed men kidnap Swiss man in southern Philippines

Armed men kidnap Swiss man in southern Philippines

Armed men on boats abducted a Swiss man from the beach resort he owned in a southern Philippine city where al-Qaida-linked militants operate, officials said Monday.
Police and navy operatives on fast crafts have been dispatched to pursue the abductors, at least five men on three outrigger boats, said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, the military chief in the region.
He said the hostage is Charlie Reith, 72, who has lived in Zamboanga for 40 years and owns a farm and the private beach resort in Patalon village.
A German man with Reith when he was kidnapped late Sunday managed to get away, Dolorfino added.
Army Colonel Santiago Baluyot, commander of a local anti-terror task force, said Reith's German friend, Karl Reichling, managed to fight off the raiders. Reichling is also a resident of Zamboanga city and is married to a Filipino woman.
The abductors are believed to have fled toward Pilas island in nearby Basilan province. No group has claimed responsibility and the motive is still unknown.
Consul Stephanie Perillard said the Swiss Embassy was in contact with local police about the case, but she refused to give more details.
Dolorfino said it was not yet clear if Abu Sayyaf extremists, notorious for kidnappings for ransom, bombings and beheadings, were to blame. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the area.
Washington has listed the Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 fighters, as a terrorist group.
U.S.-backed offensives have killed or captured many of its commanders in recent years, leaving the group without an overall leader to unify its factions on the islands of Jolo and Basilan as well as the Zamboanga peninsula.


Updated : 2021-04-23 20:32 GMT+08:00