A three-man news team for the Dubai-based Al Arabiya network, including a Jordanian man, are missing on a remote Philippine island notorious for Islamist militants and kidnappings, police said Friday.
Bakr Atyani and his two Filipino crew members failed to return to their hotel on Jolo island on Tuesday, a day after they arrived in Jolo by plane, provincial police chief Antonio Freyra said.
“The Jolo mayor offered to provide security for them, but they declined, saying they would not go far from their hotel,” Senior Superintendent Freyra told AFP by telephone.
Local authorities searched their rooms in Jolo town centre after the hotel owner reported to police that they failed to return in the evening, he said.
Jolo is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamic militant movement that has been blamed for most of the country’s worst terror attacks as well as kidnappings of foreigners.
Freyra said there was no information yet as to whether the trio had been kidnapped, but said foreigners who ventured to the far southern island were targets for the Abu Sayyaf and other groups involved in abductions.
“If Americans or other foreigners come here it is natural for us to offer them security… We all know that we still have a kidnapping problem here,” he said.
Al Arabiya’s head of media, Nasser Al-Sarami, told AFP in Dubai that the network was trying to contact its crew and ensure that they returned “safe and sound”.
He said the crew was filming a documentary “to shine a light on the situation of Muslims in the Philippines”, which was to be broadcast during the Ramadan month starting in late July.