Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Jordan Journalist Missing in Southern Philippines ; Government Hopes Crew Not Kidnapped but on Reporting Assignment

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Jordan Journalist Missing in Southern Philippines ; Government Hopes Crew Not Kidnapped but on Reporting Assignment

Article excerpt

The authorities in the Philippines are hoping that a prominent Jordanian journalist and his crew, who disappeared on a restive southern island, have not been kidnapped but are on a reporting assignment.

The authorities in the Philippines are hoping that a prominent Jordanian journalist and his crew, who disappeared on a southern island plagued by kidnapping, will re-emerge safely after he has completed his reporting.

The journalist, Baker Atyani, who is based in Jakarta as the Southeast Asia bureau chief for Al Arabiya television, was last seen with his four-person crew Tuesday morning getting into a van with two unidentified men during a reporting trip to the restive southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Mr. Atyani was expected to return the same day but has not been seen since. Officials suspect that he was attempting to interview hostages and members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which is believed to be behind a scores of kidnappings in the area in recent years.

In the past decade, Abu Sayyaf has routinely kidnapped journalists whom it invited into the jungle for interviews. No one has claimed responsibility for kidnapping Mr. Atyani.

A military spokesman in the area, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, declined Sunday to state whether Mr. Atyani's case was considered a kidnapping or a missing-persons case. He said a crisis committee had been formed with senior military, police and civilian government officials to investigate the case.

On Saturday, a deputy presidential spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, said that because Mr. Atyani was last seen voluntarily entering a vehicle, officials were hopeful that he was not kidnapped but was on a reporting assignment.

"Apparently, he was not under duress or under force," she said. "For now, efforts are being made to locate him."

Mr. Atyani is highly experienced in dealing with militant groups and operating in dangerous areas prone to kidnapping, including the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. …

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