ZAMBOANGA CITY—Government forces arrested a high-ranking member of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay Wednesday afternoon.
Nasirin Balajadji was caught in Barangay Canacan on the strength of a warrant for the crime of kidnapping for ransom, the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.
He was tagged in the kidnapping of Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani in July 2012 while the latter was filming a documentary on the bandit group in Jolo, Sulu.
Atyani, who was known for interviewing Osama bin Laden months before the Sept.11 attacks, was released 18 months later.
Zamboanga Sibugay police director Jerry Protacio said Balajadji also allegedly held hostage retired Italian priest Rolando Del Torchio in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte in Oct. 2015, and 8-year-old boy Rexon Romoc in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay in Aug. 2016.
Del Torchio, who set up a pizza restaurant in Dipolog after leaving priesthood, was freed in April 2016 while Romoc was taken hostage for 7 months before reuniting with his family in Feb. 2017.—Report from Chrisel Almonia, ABS-CBN News