Thursday, September 24, 2009

Japanese treasure hunters, Filipino guides escape kidnapping attempt in Zamboanga province

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / September 24, 2009) – Three Japanese treasure hunters and their Filipino guides escaped from a group of gunmen on the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay in what police said could be a kidnapping attempt.

Gunmen on Wednesday opened fire on a van carrying the foreigners Hiro Nakano, Koichirou Yoshioka and Yoshitel Miyake and their local guides Fedelito dela Penia, Rolito Berberio Jr., Rolando Doronila and Romeo Santos Jr., in the village of Timbang-Timbang in the town of Alicia.

The group escaped unhurt from the attack and reported the incident to the police. Local television news said a Filipino guide of the Japanese men, Hassanal Alsree, was arrested by the police on suspicion of being involved in the botched kidnapping.

Alsree was with the foreigners, but took off to speak to his contacts to guide them to a cave in the town where Japanese treasure had been allegedly found. But armed men later appeared and the van’s driver, sensing danger, sped off leaving Alsree behind.

Gunmen fired on the van hitting the vehicle; however, no one was hurt in the attack, the local ABS-CBN television reported.

It said the attackers escaped and that policemen recovered four empty shells of M16 rifle from the area. It was unknown whether the attackers were members of a rebel group, but the Abu Sayyaf and Moro guerrillas are actively operating in the province.

Police said the foreigners left Thursday for Manila. It gave no further details about the Japanese men or their Filipino companions. (Mindanao Examiner)

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