California Businessman Said Rescued After Raids Kill 10
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A California businessman kidnapped two months ago was freed Wednesday and appeared before reporters at national police headquarters. Police said the businessman had been rescued.
Col. Roberto Lastimoso said Michael Barnes, 41, of Long Beach, Calif., was rescued about 1 p.m. in suburban Paranaque.
Barnes, vice president of Philippine Geothermal Inc., was kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 17 near his office.
Barnes later appeared before reporters at police headquarters along with U.S. Embassy officials and thanked those responsible for his release.
″I’m very glad to be back safe and sound,″ said Barnes, who wore a beard, was dressed in shorts and appeared weak.
Earlier Wednesday, officials said police SWAT teams killed 10 people during a series of simultaneous morning raids on suspected hideouts of Barnes’ kidnappers.
The Philippines National Police said two of its agents were wounded and two women were arrested during raids in four districts of metropolitan Manila.
Three suspects were killed in the raid in Paranaque, three in Mandalyuong, three in Marikina and one in Makati, police said.
A statement by police said the raids were staged ″to flush out suspected Communist abductors of Barnes, resulting in the death of 10 suspected Communist members.″
No further details were immediately available. There was no explanation why so many raids ended in ″shootouts″ with such a high death toll.
Communist rebels have denied holding Barnes.
They claim he was abducted by a group led by Alfredo de Leon, whom the rebels describe as a former guerrilla who was thrown out of the underground movement after unauthorized bank robberies and kidnappings.
De Leon was arrested in November but escaped soon afterward. Rebel sources claim de Leon was intentionally set free by his captors, who became his partners in a kidnap-for-ransom gang.
The Barnes kidnapping has deepened safety concerns among American businessmen in Manila and prompted several companies to hire bodyguards for senior staff.
U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner warned that the abduction may undermine the government’s campaign to attract foreign investment to help revive the nation’s flagging economy.