3 foreigners, 1 Filipina abducted in Samal Island

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three foreigners – two Canadians and a Norwegian – and a Filipina were abducted in a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte late Monday night, September 21, authorities confirmed.

Police identified the victims as Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkinstad, 56; Canadian guests John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50; and the latter's Filipina girlfriend only identified as "Tess."

Philippine National Police Region 11 authorities said on Tuesday, September 22, that 11 armed men stormed the Holiday Oceanview Resort at around 11:23 pm on Monday and forcibly took the 4 victims with them.

Investigators said the perpetrators attempted to kidnap a Japanese couple but failed after spouses Steven and Kazuka Tripp fought back.

"Some of the armed men barged into the yacht of spouses Steven and Kazuka Tripp trying to abduct them, but the two fought back and managed to escape," authorities said.

The Tripps were rushed to the hospital after sustaining head injuries from the scuffle.

Responding to questions in a news conference on Tuesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said that the commotion created by the Japanese couple might have "alerted" others in the area "to hide or make their escape" from the armed men.

The police said the armed men used two motorized outriggers. State security forces are now conducting pursuit operations.

Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Commander Rafael Mariano said that the kidnappers' pump boat was headed towards the direction of Pantukan in Compostela Valley.

Police Regional Director Wendy del Rosario said authorities will hold a conference on Tuesday, September 22, to coordinate action on the abduction. A joint task force will be created in relation to the incident.

Captain Albert Caber, Public Information Officer chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said in an interview on ANC that the area where the abduction took place had 30 people, mostly foreigners. 

Joint efforts

Padilla that the military is working with police authorities in tracking down the abductors.

“For the moment we can assure the public that the joint forces of government, led by the police along with the air assets of the Air Force, the naval assets of the Navy, are all working hand-in-hand with our land forces where the Army units are located, hopefully to locate and catch these abductors and rescue the victims,” Padilla said.

When asked, he said that the group behind the abduction has not been determined. Padilla also said that contrary to earlier reports, the abductors had small arms, and not high-powered weapons. They were also fluent in English and Filipino.

Samal Island, known as the "Island Garden City," experienced a similar incident in 2001.

On midnight of May 22, 2001, members of the Abu Sayyaf group attacked Pearl Farm, which is about 10 minutes from Holiday Oceanview. They killed two employees and hurt 3 others, but were unable to take hostages. – Rappler.com