Kidnapper of Jordanian journalist, retired Italian priest arrested

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Sept) – A joint Army and police team arrested in Zamboanga Sibugay last Wednesday the Islamic militant who allegedly kidnapped Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani and retired Catholic priest Rolando del Torchio.

Capt. Clint Antipala, spokesperson of the Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, said Nasirin Balajadji did not resist when troops and members of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Task Force arrested him at barangay Kabasalan in Naga town, Zamboanga Sibugay late Wednesday afternoon.

Antipala said the arrest was made based on the arrest warrants issued by a local court for the kidnapping of Atyani and Del Torchio.

“We are certain Balajadji was part of the Abu Sayyaf militants who planned and executed the kidnapping of the two foreigners,” he said.

Atyani, who works for the Pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel, was working along with two Filipino crewmen on a documentary when militants in Sulu kidnapped them on June 2012.

He was released 18 months later.

Antipala said Balajadji was also one of the Abu Sayyaf militants who kidnapped Del Torchio, a retired Italian priest who opened a pizza restaurant in Dipolog City.

Del Torchio was released unharmed by his abductors in Sulu after six months.

He was a priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).

The Union of Catholic Asian News reported that Del Torchio served as a missionary in the town of Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte province from 1988 to 1996.

After he left the priesthood in 2001, Del Torchio moved to Dipolog City where he worked with a nongovernment organization that helps poor farmers. He later established a pizzeria business. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)