01/15/2009, 00.00
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Jolo, three Red Cross volunteers kidnapped: one is Italian

Military confirmation indicates the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf as probable authors of the kidnap.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Three representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross were kidnapped this morning in the Southern Philippines. Military spokeswoman Lt. Estefani Cacho identified the kidnapped workers as Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Jean Lacaba.

According to witnesses who escaped the hijack the three volunteers were in a car on their way to Jolo airport after visiting a local jail when they were intercepted by motorcycle-riding gunmen who took them away in their vehicle.

Military authorities have pointed to the rebel group Abu Sayyaf as probable authors of the kidnap.  The Muslim group, which first appeared in the ‘90’s, is linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network and is behind numerous attacks among them the targeting of a ferry in Manila bay in 2004 that cost the lives of over 100 people.

The rebels are fighting for the creation of an independent Islamic state within the archipelago.  The group have carried out diverse abductions in and around Jolo and the near-by island of Basilan.  The most alarming incident occurred in 2002 when they abducted twenty tourists, beheading some of them.  Recently abductions carried out by the group have been resolved with the release of those kidnapped following the payment of a ransom.

Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, has appealed to Abu Sayyaf recalling that the three people kidnapped “are neutral”.  Gordon also affirmed: “It is my hope that these people realize that the Red Cross is there to help them”.

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See also
Abu Sayyaf behind kidnapping of volunteers in Mindanao
Jolo, aid workers kidnapped: hopes that they will be released soon
Red Cross volunteer freed. Italian worker still held by kidnappers
Tensions and confusion over the fate of Red Cross workers abducted in Jolo
Philippines, member of Abu Sayyaf arrested for killing of Fr. Roda


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