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Army rescues kidnapped Fil-Am in Zambo Norte

October 01, 2020 - Thursday 11:10 AM by PNA

Article Banner Image RESCUED. An ambulance fetches Filipino-American Rex Triplitt, 64, to a military camp in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte, after his rescue on Wednesday (Sept. 30, 2020). Government troops rescued Triplitt following a gun battle with suspected Abu Sayyaf Group in the hinterlands of Sirawai town. (Photo courtesy of Sirawai Municipal Police Station)

DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – Government troops rescued on Wednesday the kidnapped 64-year-old Filipino-American after a gun battle with armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the hinterlands of Sirawai town.

Fil-Am Rex Triplitt (not Triplet as earlier reported) was abducted by four armed men clad in fatigue uniforms while on his way home from a remote barangay last September 16. His wife, Celsa Maani, was able to escape during the commotion and reported the incident to authorities.

A statement from the Army's 1st Infantry Division said soldiers belonging to the 42nd Infantry Battalion engaged the abductors in a firefight at around 10 a.m. in Barangay Pisa Itom, Sirawai.

The kidnappers fled during the firefight, leaving Triplitt behind, according to 1ID.

“Our troops relentlessly conducted pursuit operations to deny terrorists from leaving the Peninsula, we are preventing them from transporting the victim to Basilan or Sulu,” said Lt. Col. Leon Onggao Jr., commander of the 42nd Infantry Battalion, based in Barangay Dona Cecilia, Sirawai.

Triplitt was brought to the Army camp in Sirawai for medical examination and de-briefing.

Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, commander of 102nd Infantry Brigade, thanked the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that maintain a presence in this province for providing assistance to the pursuing troops.

Nicolas said that Army troops and other units will continue to hunt the fleeing Abu Sayyaf bandits that broke into smaller groups to avoid detection.

Sirawai is part of this province's Triple “SB” area (Siocon, Sibuco, Sirawai, and Baliguian towns) where the MILF and MNLF maintain camps. The area has been known to be the lair of lawless groups that have been operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula. (PNA)