Suspected terror group gunmen kidnap businessman in southern Philippines

Army soldiers on patrol in the southern Philippines. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 18 September 2020

Suspected terror group gunmen kidnap businessman in southern Philippines

  • The victim is a businessman in the province of Zamboanga del Norte province

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.

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.