MANILA: Security forces have launched a hunt for suspected Abu Sayyaf terror group gunmen who on Wednesday kidnapped a Filipino American businessman in front of his wife in the southern Philippines.
According to police, Rex Triplet, 64, a resident of Piacan village, Sirawai, in Zamboanga del Norte province, was heading home on a motorcycle with his 23-year-old wife, Celsa Maani, at around 6 p.m. when four armed men
blocked the couple’s way.
Capt. Clint Antipala, Army 1st Infantry Division information officer, said the suspects were wearing camouflage uniforms and police revealed that eyewitnesses had described the gunmen as carrying an M203 grenade launcher and short firearms.
The abductors reportedly dragged Triplet into a vehicle and fled toward the hinterland.
The victim’s wife managed to escape and immediately sought help from village officials.
Triplet buys and sells land for a living and according to police lives a modest life in Sirawai’s rural outskirts.
“Based on his profile provided by the police, he does not have a significant amount of money. He is not rich. They have parcels of land but those are not that big,” Antipala said.
A crisis committee comprising police and military officials has been set up by Sirawai town Mayor Gamar Janihim.
Military chiefs believe that the kidnappers could still be in the area and said a joint operation to rescue Triplet was underway.
Zamboanga del Norte is part of the Zamboanga Peninsula where various armed groups are known to operate, including the Abu Sayyaf Group which is notorious for ransom kidnappings.