Manila: Two Filipinas who were abducted last Friday by armed men in Iraq had already been recovered and are now in the hands of Iraqi authorities, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
“The DFA expresses its gratitude to authorities in Iraq for the swift and successful rescue of two Filipinos who were reported to have been kidnapped there three days ago,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement on Monday shortly after he was informed of the development.
The two Filipinas were among the four earlier reported abducted by a group of Iraqis in Azem area between Diyala in eastern Iraq and Kirkuk which close to Baghdad.
The two captive Philippine nationals had earlier escaped from their abductors on Friday.
“The four Filipinas came from Arbil in the northern Kurdistan region and were on their way to Baghdad when their vehicle encountered the armed men along the highway in Uzem District between Kirkuk and Diyala,” the DFA said, citing reports.
Cayetano, for his part, said the Iraqi government played a role in the apparent rescue.
“Their safe recovery would not have been possible without the swift response of our Iraqi friends and for that we are very grateful,” Cayetano said.
Based on reports, said the women were taken by the armed men after their driver abandoned their vehicle.
It remains unclear if the vehicle was flagged down by the armed men or it encountered engine trouble while travelling on the way to Baghdad.
According to Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Julius Torres, they would request custody of all four women as soon as the police investigation is concluded so that they could immediately be repatriated.
There are an estimated 4,000 Filipinos working in Iraq, with around 3,000 based in Kurdistan region.
Earlier, Cayatano had requested the assistance of authorities in Iraq to secure the safe release of the four Filipino captives.
Around the same time that the Filipino women were abducted in Iraq, another group of Filipino technical personnel were kidnapped in Libya.
Philippine Embassy in Tripoli said the three Filipino technicians were among four foreign nationals taken by armed men from a waterworks project site also on Friday.
The DFA, quoting Philippine Chargé d’Affaires to Libya, Mardomel Melicor, said armed men entered the construction site located 500 kilometers from Tripoli early morning Friday and took five foreigners and four Libyan from their quarters.
Melicor said the armed men later released one of the foreign workers and all the Libyans.