German taken hostage in Philippines

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2007, Cotabato City, Philippines (dpa) - Muslim gunmen seized a German man and three Filipinos Thursday in a southern Philippine province but abandoned them four hours later, officials said. The kidnappers let their victims go when they were cornered by soldiers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the hinterlands of Pikit town in North Cotabato province, 960 kilometres south of Manila. The victims were identified as German businessman Thomas Wallraf and his Filipino wife, May

31 May 2007

Cotabato City, Philippines (dpa) - Muslim gunmen seized a German man and three Filipinos Thursday in a southern Philippine province but abandoned them four hours later, officials said.

The kidnappers let their victims go when they were cornered by soldiers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the hinterlands of Pikit town in North Cotabato province, 960 kilometres south of Manila.

The victims were identified as German businessman Thomas Wallraf and his Filipino wife, May Sharon Jackson; their friend Consuela San Juan; and driver Diego Delfin.

Wallraf said he did not feel threatened or scared during the incident.

"It was an exciting adventure," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview after their release. "Our captors did not threaten us. They did not harm us."

The victims were on their way to Pikit for a business transaction when armed men in army camouflage uniforms stopped them, seized their belongings and tied their hands, Jackson said.

"It was very tiring," she told a local television station. "We were taken from one house to another, but we were not harmed. The kidnappers demanded money but after a while just abandoned us."

Jackson said she and her husband travel frequently throughout the southern region of Mindanao for their nickel alloy business, and it was the first time that they had encountered trouble.

"All we want now is to take a rest," she added, "but we are very thankful that we are safe. We would like to thank all the people who helped us."

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the kidnappers got scared after MILF forces surrounded them.

"The kidnappers were forced to abandon the victims," he said. "They erred in entering our area of responsibility."

The MILF, which is engaged in peace talks with the government, has been helping in hunting down criminals and lawless groups in the southern region of Mindanao under a ceasefire agreement.

Army Colonel Pedro Soria, a brigade commander in the area, said the victims were turned over by the MILF rebels to the MILF-government joint ceasefire committee.

The four victims were kidnapped from a van in the village of Batulawan in Pikit town.

Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the abductors "tied up the victims" and forced them onto motorcycles.

Several foreign governments have issued travel advisories, warning their citizens not to travel in Mindanao because of terrorist threats and a decades-old Muslim insurgency.

In April, fighting erupted between Muslim rebels and government troops in the nearby province of Maguindanao, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes.

Many foreigners who visit North Cotabato and nearby provinces work for international aid organizations involved in development projects in the area.

DPA

Subject: German news

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