Samal Island kidnapping: Mining consultant could be primary target

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L-R: Kjartan Sekkingstad, John Ridsel, Robert Hall, and Marithes "Tess" Flor

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Canadian mining consultant John Ridsdel could have been the primary target of the kidnappers.

This seems to be the new angle that the authorities are now looking into, after two witnesses claimed that they were released by the kidnappers after getting Ridsdel on the night of September 21, when the incident happened.

In the latest development report released on Friday evening (September 25) by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Oceanview, investigators discovered that American Steven Tripp and wife Kazuko Shibata Tripp were the first ones captured by the kidnappers

Related: AFP chief mum on whether Sulu-based group is behind Samal Island kidnapping

The couple claimed that they fought back and sustained injuries in the process. The Tripps said the abductors, however, left them behind inside their yacht for no reason at all.

The kidnappers then accosted Ridsdel and forcibly dragged him out of his yacht. Canadian Robert Hall with his Filipino girlfriend Marithes Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad went out of their respective rooms when the commotion happened. They were abducted as well.

Sources who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak about the matter, said Ridsdel could have made some enemies in his work as a mining consultant for a multinational mining corporation operating in Zamboanga and Compostela Valley.

According to TVI Pacific, Inc., a Calgary-based mining group, Ridsdel is a semi-retired consultant of their company.

Tracing the location

The SITG Oceanview's latest report also revealed that the kidnappers took the iPod and iPhone of the Tripp couple. Authorities said the gadgets have simpacks with them that could be traced to help determine their location.

According to the task group, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is also coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Related: Kidnappers, victims still within Eastern Mindanao - military