Philippine police stormed a kidnappers’ hideout and rescued a 4-year-old American boy who was held for ransom for eight days, officials said Friday. Five suspects were arrested in the second recent case of a kidnapped U.S. minor in the Philippines.
The boy, who was living with his Filipino mother and American father, was seized in Manila on Dec. 6 by three gunmen who cut off the car he was traveling in with the mother, said Isagani Nerez, head of the police anti-crime unit.
A $13,600 ransom was paid three days later, but the kidnappers demanded $113,000 more before releasing the boy, whose identity has been withheld, Nerez told reporters. The father, an engineer, sought the help of the U.S. Embassy and FBI, who sent representatives to the national police headquarters to coordinate with local authorities in securing the victim’s release, Nerez said.
He said police feared the boy would be harmed and traced his location to the kidnappers’ hideout in Prieto Diaz town in eastern Sorsogon province. On Wednesday, police stormed the site, rescued the boy, who was unharmed, and arrested three of his alleged captors. A follow-up operation led to the arrest of two more suspects in Manila on Thursday.
The five suspects were charged by the Department of Justice with kidnapping for ransom and are being held in police detention pending trial. If convicted, they face up to 40 years in prison.
Kidnappings for ransom are more common in the impoverished, volatile south, home to a long-running Muslim insurgency. But abductions have also taken place in Manila, which was once notorious as the kidnapping capital of Asia. Children of wealthy Filipinos are often targeted and many cases go unreported to police.