Skip to main content

Gunmen free American teenager in southern Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) - Gunmen freed late on Saturday an American teenager after holding him for nearly five months on a troubled southern island in the Philippines, security officials said.

Kevin Eric Lunsmann, 14, who was abducted with his Philippine-born mother and a cousin while on holidays in July, was found by soldiers walking in a village outside Lamitan town on Basilan island, army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Randolph Cabangbang told reporters.

"He is safe and is now with our troops in Lamitan," Cabangbang said, but did not mention if ransom was paid. He said they will bring Lunsmann to an army hospital for medical checkup before handing him over to his family.

Kidnap-for-ransom is common in the southern Philippines, where government is dealing with Islamist militants and criminal gangs. A retired Australian army soldier was the latest kidnap victim in the south as Western governments issued travel advisories warning their citizens against trips to the southern Philippines.

Lunsmann and his mother were vacationing on Tictabon island near Zamboanga City in July when gunmen stormed their beachfront house and bundled them into boats and brought them to Basilan, hotbed of an al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf.

His mother, Gerfa, was freed in October near Maluso town on Basilan island while his cousin was released last month near the same town.

Authorities said a few thousand dollars were paid as "board and lodging" fee for the woman. "I have no information on the ransom," Alex Lineses, provincial police chief, told reporters.

"We are still verifying if he escaped or he was freed. What I can say now is he is safe with us."

(Editing by Greg McCune)


Reuters2 hrs 19 mins ago



More Philippine Defense News

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

No reduction in AFP manpower size

THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military ch…

Philippine Armored Vehicles with ad-hoc wood slat armor

While searching for Philippine armored vehicles for the updates being done for both the blog and the Facebook page I chanced upon images of Philippine Army and Marine armor assets covered with thick wood planks as slat armor for protection from rocket propelled grenades. This caught the eyes of Popular Mechanics who published an article last June 8th just for this subject.

According to the article,
Wood armor on armored vehicles won't save them from ISIS rockets. Not sure, I'll leave that to the actual reports from the Philippine Military in using wood as an ad hoc protection for rpg's, but yes this is only during emergencies. The Philippine Army and Philippine Marines should employ or use the real add-on armors currently in the market for armored vehicle protection. Or they could just simply buy new thicker-armored vehicles to be used for front-line operations and have the old vehicles to be used in secondary missions or as support vehicles.

Nonetheless the fast-thinkin…