Philippine crossfire wounds guide, scares 7 bird-watchers

AP News
Posted: Feb 13, 2015 4:22 AM

MALAYBALAY, Philippines (AP) — Crossfire between the military and communist rebels wounded a bird-watching guide and scared seven foreigners Friday in a protected mountain area in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Col. Jesse Alvarez, an army commander in the area, said the military was not aware the bird-watchers were there when the 10-minute firefight ensued.

Daniel Somera, an environment official supervising the Mount Kitanglad protected area in Bukidnon province, said one of four Filipino guides was wounded and brought to a hospital but the rest of the bird-watching group escaped unhurt. Three Britons, three Danes and one Australian were in the mountain area near where the firefight occurred.

Australian Richard Lindsay Johnstone was earlier reported missing but has since been found and has joined the other foreigners who traveled back to nearby Cagayan de Oro City, where they are staying. Somera said. Johnstone's hometown was not immediately available.

"They are all safe but traumatized," said Somera, whose office issued a permit to the foreigners for the bird-watching trip.

A Dutch bird-watcher has been held hostage for three years by Abu Sayyaf extremists who kidnapped him, his Italian companion and their Filipino guide in southern Tawi-Tawi province. The Italian and the Filipino were able to escape.