04/23/2009, 00.00
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Reports about Italian hostage Vagni release are unconfirmed

The Red Cross says reports that the humanitarian worker is free are unsubstantiated. Military operations to rescue Italian volunteer have been underway since yesterday. Local sources say that negotiations between kidnappers and government are taking place.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Reports that Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni was released could not be confirmed. The Italian man has been held hostage by Islamist militants tied to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group since 15 January.

Richard Gordon, head of the International Red Cross in the Philippines, could not confirm reports that the 62-year-old man was freed after an operation by the Filipino military.

After the release of Andreas Notter, one of three Red Cross workers abducted (the other was Mary Jean Lacaba, a Filipino woman who was released on 2 April), the Filipino government said it expected a quick solution for the last hostage in the hands of the kidnappers.

Yesterday the military gave the green light for a rescue operation to free Vagni (pictured with Noster).

Fr Angelo Calvo, Claretian missionary and president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), said that the “military solution is very risky” because the humanitarian worker cannot easily walk due to a hernia.

“We cannot exclude that the announcement of the military operation and the hostage’s rescue might be a way to put pressure on the kidnappers,” Father Calvo said.

Local sources said that negotiations between kidnappers and the government are taking place at the same time as the military action.

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See also
Eugenio Vagni speaks to wife, but his release remains uncertain
Jolo, negotiations over Vagni’s release at a standstill
Vagni in safe house, soon to be released, says Filipino military spokesman
In Jolo residents fear violent military operation, in Manila authorities say hostages still alive
For Filipino bishops, Eugenio Vagni’s liberation is “a highlight” for Mindanao


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