MANILA: Gunmen kidnapped two Canadian tourists, a Norwegian employee and a Filipina from a luxury resort island in the conflict-wracked southern Philippines, while other foreigners narrowly escaped, police said yesterday. The abductions add to a string of kidnappings of foreigners in the south since the early 1990s, most often by Islamic militants seeking to extort ransoms, although the latest culprits were not immediately identified.
Police said armed men sailed two motorboats into a marina on Samal Island just before midnight on Monday and seized the four from aboard yachts, apparently knowing exactly who they wanted to abduct, police said. “They appeared to target the foreigners. They went straight for the yachts,” Superintendent Antonio Rivera, a local police spokesman, told AFP.
He said a Japanese couple was also nearly abducted but the pair fought back, while some of the more than two dozen guests jumped into the water to escape. Law enforcement boats and helicopters were scouring the waters around the island yesterday to try to stop the kidnappers from leaving the area, according to Rivera, but they appeared to have escaped. “We still don’t have anything. We’re blank. No group has taken responsibility and there is no demand for ransom.”
A police report identified the Canadian tourists as John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50. The Norwegian, who was working at the marina, was identified as Kjartan Sekkinstad, 56. The 40-year-old Filipina, identified only as Tess, was a companion of one of the foreign tourists, Rivera said. The Canadian and Norwegian embassies in Manila declined to comment.
A Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman in Oslo, Lothe Salvesen, confirmed to AFP that one of its citizens had been abducted in the Philippines, but gave no further details. President Benigno Aquino, who was at the resort last week for a meeting with political allies, was monitoring developments and authorities were doing their best to find the captives, his spokesman told reporters. “The investigation is in full swing, simultaneous with pursuit operations,” spokesman Herminio Coloma said.