Kidnapper of Swiss hostage killed in Philippines: police

17th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of the suspected Muslim militants who kidnapped an elderly Swiss man was shot dead in the southern Philippines hours after their hostage was rescued, police said Thursday.

Pursuing policemen shot at three suspected abductors of 72-year-old Carl Rieth late Wednesday, killing one while two others escaped, said Senior Superintendent Edwin Ocampo.

"The operations against the other kidnappers will continue. We still have people in the area," said Ocampo, police chief of Zamboanga city near where the shootout occurred.

The three suspects were waiting for a boat so they could escape to the nearby island of Basilan when police caught up with them, said Ocampo, adding that a pistol was recovered from the dead man.

Police tracked the three suspects after recovering a weakened, haggard Rieth in a coastal village near Zamboanga before dawn Wednesday.

At least eight heavily armed men snatched Rieth, a businessman and long-time resident of Zamboanga, from his beachfront home on April 4.

The kidnappers abandoned their hostage when they saw a rescue team closing in, the military said on Wednesday.

The police and military had insisted that no ransom was paid for Rieth.

It could not be determined if the dead suspect was a member of any Muslim rebel group, said Ocampo.

But while no group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Rieth, regional military chief Lieutenant General Benjamin Dolorfino said Wednesday the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group was suspected of being behind the crime.

Basilan is also a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf extremists, who have frequently kidnapped foreigners for ransom in the past and are listed by the United States as a terrorists.

© 2010 AFP

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