Al Arabiya TV crew disappears in Philippines

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 17-06-2012

An Al Arabiya TV reporter and his two colleagues are missing on the southern Philippine island of Sulu, a stronghold of the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Jordanian Baker Atyani (43), the Southeast Asia bureau chief for MBC's Dubai-based Arabic news channel, has not been since leaving his hotel in Jolo with the Filipino crew members on Tuesday (12 June).

"They got into a vehicle waiting outside with Mr Atyani next to the driver and the other men behind. There has been no news about them since then. We are continuing our investigations," said Antonio Freyra, a senior superintendent of the Philippines national police.

"We searched the hotel room where they were staying and did not find anything suspicious," Supt Freyra added.

"I firmly believe they are safe condition and I am hoping that in a few days time we will know where they are."

Al Arabiya's head of media, Nasser Al Sarami, told The Nation the network was trying to contact its crew and ensure that they returned safe and sound.

Atyani and his crew were shooting a documentary "to shine a light on the situation of Muslims in the Philippines", to be broadcast during Ramadan.

It is feared they have become targets for Abu Sayyaf or another group involved in the abduction of foreigners.