Reporter, crew missing in conflict zone
MANILA – A veteran Jordanian television journalist who had interviewed Osama bin Ladin three months before the dreaded 9/11 terrorists’ attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, was reported missing since Tuesday, together with four Filipino crew while on a news coverage on Sulu island in southern Philippines, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday.
Baker Atyani (pictured), bureau chief of the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television network in Southeast Asia, and four Filipinos he hired, failed to return to their hotel in the town of Jolo, the capital of the island province of Sulu some 900 kilometers south of Manila.
Police have expressed fear that Atyani and his entourage might have been kidnapped by the notorious Abu Sayyaf which has linked with al-Qaeda.
Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyna, Jolo police chief, said a search is ongoing for the whereabouts of Atyani and his group.
Atyani arrived in Jolo last Monday to shoot a documentary film for his outfit, the Al Arabiya, according to Supt. Freyna
Supt. Freyna also said that the mayor of Jolo offered security for Atyani but the latter declined, saying they would not go far from their hotel.
Although the military has claimed that the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group has been drastically reduced following the killing of their top leaders, including Khadaffy Janjlani and Abu Sabaya, there are still remnants of the militant terror group operating on the island.
The PNP has still to confirm if Atyani and the four Filipinos were kidnapped but foreigners who go to the island are prime targets of abduction as what happened several times in the past.