MS Risk Blog

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped four in Philippines

Posted on in Philippines title_rule

Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped three foreign nationals and a Filipina from a resort on the Island Garden City of Samal in the restive southern Philippines.

Authorities have provisionally identified the kidnap victims as Robert Hall and John Ridsel, both Canadian citizens, Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian resort manager and an as yet unidentified Filipino woman. The four were abducted at around 11.41 pm last night during a raid on the Holiday Oceanview Resort near Davao city, the largest city on Mindanao island. Two more holidaymakers, Steven and Kazuka Tripp, narrowly avoided capture after successfully fighting off the gunmen who attempted to board their yacht. While no group or individual has come forward to claimresponsibility for the incident, one of the resort’s employees is reported to have discovered a note at the entrance of the hotel which reads: “Justice for our commander: NPA.” NPA stands for New People’s Army, an insurgent group connected to the Communist Party of the Philippines. However, the region’s mayor has questioned the note’s authenticity, saying that the NPA “have no means of pulling off such kidnapping”.

Sources say that the kidnappers spoke English and Tagalog and that their choice of targets- yachts belonging to the hotel’s guests – suggests that from the outset their intended victims were foreign nationals. After a botched intervention by two Japanese tourists, the gunmen took their captives and fled aboard two motorised outriggers. Filipino naval vessels, backed by two helicopter gunships, formed a blockade around Samal to prevent the kidnappers from reaching Basilan Island, but even after giving chase were unable to prevent their escape. Ground units in southeastern Mindanao were also alerted to the incident and have been patrolling possible landing  sites ever since. However, at the moment of publication, the kidnappers remain at large and the hostages have not yet been rescued.

Officials from the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group say that kidnappings in Mindanao tend to be perpetrated by individuals or groups who are members of or allied to known terrorist organisations such as Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These groups see kidnapping as a way of funding their operations, which is why foreigners are often targeted. By contrast, in Manila and other areas north of Mindanao, kidnappings tend to be criminal rather than ideological in nature.

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