AFP. 30 January 2002. European shot dead by suspected Filipino communist

MANILA -- Suspected Filipino communist rebels on Wednesday shot dead a
European and seriously wounded his German companion in the northern
Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

The men had been going up Pinatubo volcano on rented motorbikes when
they were attacked at 1:30 pm (0530 GMT), Tourism Secretary Richard
Gordon told AFP.

The dead man was identified as Bryan Thomas Smith, 45, of British-German
parentage. His nationality was not immediately established.

German national Siegfried Whitman, 55, was seriously wounded in the

Citing a police report, Gordon said communist New People's Army (NPA)
rebels were believed to have staged the attack, while the duo were
crossing a stream.

Both the Europeans were permanent residents of the Philippines and lived
in Pampanga province north of Manila.

"They were seasoned bikers and had been trekking up the volcano for the
last eight months and were familiar with the terrain," Gordon said.

Whitman had sent mobile phone text messages to the owner of the
motorbikes informing him about the attack.

"He reported that Mr Smith died on the spot on the first volley of shots
while he himself was seriously wounded," Gordon said.

A pilot of a Philippine Air Force helicopter which joined military and
police personnel on the ground in searching for the duo managed to
establish contact with Whitman and had pinpointed his location.

As the Philippines did not have helicopters which could operate at
night, Gordon said the US embassy had agreed to loan an American
military helicopter based here to help transport the body of Smith and
the wounded Whitman to Manila late Wednesday.

Pinatubo's huge crater has become a tourist draw after a 1991 eruption
killed nearly 1,000 people.

The volcano was declared eco-tourism destination of the year by the
Pacific-Asia Travel Association and the Asia Tourism Forum this year.

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Barry Stoller

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