Monday, April 05, 2010

Swiss man kidnapped in Zamboanga City

A journalist points to an undated police photo - acquired by the regional newspaper the Mindanao Examiner - of Charlie Reith, 72, a Swiss-born and naturalized Filipino kidnapped Sunday, April 4, 2010 by eight gunmen from his beach house in Patalon village in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Other reports say Reith was born in Zamboanga City, whose Swiss father was married to a Filipino woman.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 5, 2010) – Gunmen clad in police uniform raided a private resort and abducted a Swiss man in the southern Filipino port city of Zamboanga, officials said Monday.

Officials said the at least 8 armed men stormed the resort at around 6 p.m. on Sunday in Patalon village and seized Charlie Reith, 72. His friend, German national Karl Reichling, managed to fight off the raiders.

“The raiders, disguised as policemen, arrived on several speed boats and abducted Reith. We have launched a pursuit operation, but it was too dark to track down the raiders,” said Army Colonel Santiago Baluyot, commander of a local anti-terror task force.

Reith has been living in Zamboanga City for about four decades and owns a vast track of land. And Reichling is married to a Filipino woman and also lives in Zamboanga City.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the abduction and the motive is still unknown. But officials said ransom could be the motive for the abduction.

Baluyot said Reith who is a naturalized Filipino, may have been taken either to nearby Basilan or Zamboanga del Norte provinces.Other reports and some of Reith's friends said he was born in Zamboanga City, whose Swiss father was married to a Filipino woman.

Abu Sayyaf militants and Moro rebels are actively operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula and were linked to previous kidnappings and terrorism.

Kidnappings-for-ransom in Zamboanga City were not uncommon. Many foreigners and wealthy traders had been kidnapped in the past and released after their family paid ransom. Among those kidnapped in Zamboanga City were Taiwanese, Belgian, German and Chinese citizens. (Mindanao Examiner)

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