ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) — Gunmen seized a businessman in front of his wife and son Wednesday in the southern Philippines and government forces were trying to track down the abductors and their victim, police said.
Rex Triplet was riding a motorcycle with his wife and son on their way home in Sirawai town in Zambonga del Norte province at nightfall when four armed men blocked their path and forcibly took him away, a police report said.
The report identified Triplet, 64, as a Filipino American but a Sirawai police officer, Glen Banguih, said by telephone that he is a Filipino son of an American. Triplet buys and sells land for a living and lives a modest life in Sirawai’s rural outskirts, he said.
Armed with a rifle and pistols, the four men dragged the victim into a mountainous area and army troops and police were trying to locate them, Banguih said. The gunmen left behind Triplet's wife and son, who sought the help of nearby villagers, he said.
Communist guerrillas and Muslim separatist rebels have a presence in the remote region but the identity of the gunmen and their motive were unclear, he said.
Ransom kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf militants and other armed groups have long been a problem in the south. Economic development in the resource-rich region has been hampered by decades-long Muslim separatist and communist insurgencies and other law and order issues.