• Romanian sneaks through southern backdoor, caught

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Authorities are holding a Romanian after he illegally sneaked into the country, state media said.

    It said Cornel Ionesco was intercepted in Sulu province where authorities interrogated him.

    Ionesco said that he was heading to Malaysia and had come from Zamboanga City and took a small ferry bound for Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, according to the Philippine News Agency.

    It was not immediately known whether the foreigner was telling the truth or if his identify was fictitious or not.

    Ionesco was handed over to the Bureau of Immigration for investigation and subsequently held by the police.

    Authorities did not say whether Ionesco is being suspected as a terrorist or just an illegal alien.

    In 2012, a veteran Jordanian television reporter Baker Atyani, who is Al-Arabiya’s Pakistan bureau chief, went to Sulu along with two Filipino assistants to clandestinely interview Abu Sayyaf rebel leaders whose group is tied to Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists.

    But the trio was seized and the Filipinos freed just this year without Atyani, who is now suspected as terror conduit for the Abu Sayyaf.

    Atyani has previously interviewed secretly Al-Qaeda’s Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001.

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