(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday confirmed that Jordanian Al Arabiya journalist Baker Atyani had been kidnapped in the Philippines amid conflicting reports over his disappearance.
"Efforts exerted via the Jordanian embassy in Tokyo and our consul in Manila have confirmed that Atyani was kidnapped. We are following up on the case in order to secure his safe release," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Sabah Rafei told The Jordan Times without elaborating any further.
International media outlets have reported that a militant group in the southern Philippines is holding five people hostage, including Atyani, who heads Al Arabiya satellite channel's Southeast Asia bureau.
Atyani, who was last seen on Jolo Island while on a reporting trip, and his two Filipino crew members failed to return to their hotel last Tuesday, a day after they arrived on Jolo by plane, Agence France-Presse reported, quoting provincial police chief Antonio Freyra.
Jolo is a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, a small militant movement that has been blamed for most of the country's worst terror attacks as well as kidnappings of foreigners, AFP said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government announced on Wednesday that it was not conducting any search and rescue operation for Atyani and his Filipino crew members after establishing contact with him, local media in Manila reported, quoting interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo as saying that authorities were able to verify that the Al Arabiya journalist and his team are in Patikul, Sulu, and are reportedly not under threat.
"The Jordanian journalist is taking responsibility for his Filipino news crew" There was deception involved since Atyani did not disclose his plans to local authorities of wanting to interview members of the Abu Sayyaf group," he said.
Robredo added that the government hopes that the three men will resurface soon, but once that happens, he will recommend to the department of justice and the bureau of immigration that Atyani be deported and banned from entering the Philippines in the future.
"If you imperil yourself and create problems for us, I think you should not be allowed in the country again," he was quoted as saying.