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Gunmen in Philippines grab Briton, wife

MANILA -- A British businessman and his Filipino wife have been abducted in the southern Philippines, where Islamic militants have been known to seize foreigners and missionaries for ransom, the police and the military said Saturday.

The couple, Allan Arthur Hyrons, 70, and Welma Paglinawan-Hyrons, were taken Friday night by six gunmen from a beach resort in the town of Tukuran in Zamboanga del Sur province, the authorities said.

It was not immediately clear who had abducted the couple, but insurgent groups known for involvement in kidnapping operate in the area.

Maj. Helen Galvez of the Philippine regional police said that a day before the abduction, two people believed to be involved had checked in at the resort and were apparently waiting for the couple.

One group known for its involvement in such abductions is Abu Sayyaf, a militant group with many factions, one of which is led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who has been identified by the United States as the new leader of the Islamic State affiliate operating in the southern Philippines.

Iran frees 2 detainees, Australia frees 1

MELBOURNE, Australia -- In a possible swap, an Australian-British blogger and her fiance returned home Saturday after being freed from a three-month detention in Iran.

The couple, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, returned to Australia after all charges against them were dropped.

At the same time, Iran's state TV reported that an Iranian scientist, Reza Dehbashi, who was detained for 13 months in Australia over purchasing a defense system for his country from the United States, had returned home.

"We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love," the Australian couple said in a statement. "While the past few months have been very difficult, we know it has also been tough for those back home who have been worried for us."

Iranian TV said that the Australian judiciary had planned to send Dehbashi to the U.S. but that he was released through Tehran's diplomatic efforts.

The couple spent almost three months in Tehran's notorious Evin prison after they were arrested for flying a drone near a military zone without a license.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government continued to seek the return of a third Australian, Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who has been held since October 2018.

French say attacker tied to Islamic sect

PARIS -- The perpetrator of a deadly knife attack at a Paris police headquarters was likely in contact with members of an ultraconservative Islamic movement, the Paris prosecutor said Saturday.

In a news conference, Jean-Francois Ricard said the civilian employee, who killed four of his colleagues Thursday, "had likely contacts with members of the Salafist movement."

He didn't provide any evidence to back up his claim, nor indicate to which individuals or branch of Salafism he was referring.

Salafism is considered a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. While Salafism is sometimes incorrectly conflated with extremism, jihadi-Salafism was the ideology behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaida against the United States.

Ricard said the autopsies "attest to a scene of extreme violence" in an attack that lasted seven minutes, adding that two knives used had been purchased by the killer -- including a knife for preparing oysters.

Ricard said that while the attacker had no convictions, he had been accused of domestic violence a decade ago.

The wife of the attacker, who was killed by police, has been apprehended and will be in custody until Monday at the latest.

American suspect in fatality leaves U.K.

LONDON -- The wife of an American diplomat has left the U.K. after reportedly becoming a suspect in a fatal traffic accident.

Police in Northamptonshire said Saturday that they had been treating an unidentified 42-year-old woman as a suspect and that she had indicated she didn't plan to leave Britain.

The woman has been widely described across British media outlets as the wife of a U.S. diplomat.

Police said they were preparing to arrest and formally interview the woman, who has not been officially named.

The accident on Aug. 27 killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn after his motorcycle collided with a car near a British military base near Oxford that's home to a signals intelligence station operated by the U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. Embassy in London offered its "deepest sympathies" to the family of the deceased and said it will continue to be in "close contact" with the appropriate British authorities.

"Any questions regarding a waiver of the immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry," a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he called the U.S. Ambassador to express the U.K.'s disappointment.

A Section on 10/06/2019

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