Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photos of kidnapped ICRC staff surface in the Southern Philippines

Photos obtained by television giants GMA-7 and ABS-CBN show the three kidnapped ICRC staff Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, left, and Sulu deputy governor, Lady Ann Sahidulla, second from left, Italian national Eugenio Vagni and Swiss Andreas Notter, right. (GMA-7 / ABS-CBN)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 28, 2009) – At least two photographs of three kidnapped Red Cross workers have surfaced on Wednesday in the southern Philippine island of Sulu, where the Abu Sayyaf is holding them captive the past two weeks.
The photographs showed Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba posing together with Sulu deputy governor Nur Anna Sahidulla.

The kidnappers reportedly wanted to talk to Sahidulla, but details of the meeting were not disclosed. The hostages said they are being treated well and were allowed by the kidnappers to use their cell phones and laptops.

Two of the photographs were obtained by rival television networks GMA-7 and ABS-CBN.

Former Moro rebel leader Nur Misuari has offered to held in negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf for the safe release of the hostages.

It said Misuari, former chieftain of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is willing to help in the negotiations to free the hostages.

The three were kidnapped January 15 after inspecting water and sanitation project at a prison facility in the town of Patikul. Police linked a dismissed jail guard, Raden Abu, to the kidnapping and said he handed over the hostages to the Abu Sayyaf headed by Albader Parad and Abu Pula.

But reports said Misuari was asking for government permission to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf after a mayor in Sulu, Isnaji Alvarez, of Indanan town, was charged last year with kidnapping when he helped negotiate the release of television reporter Ces Drilon and her two cameramen, including their guide.

Drilon was held by the Abu Sayyaf whom they sought to interview clandestinely in Sulu Island. They were freed weeks later after private negotiators reportedly paid P20 ransom.

It was unknown whether the Abu Sayyaf is willing to negotiate with the former rebel leader. But the Abu Sayyaf previously rejected Misuari, who was tapped in 2001 by Manila to negotiate for the release of 21 Asian and European holidaymakers kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan.

Filipino movie star, Robin Padilla, was also in Zamboanga City on Wednesday and had been reported also to be helping in the negotiation for the release of the hostages. Padilla previously negotiated with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of several students and teachers kidnapped in 2000 in Basilan Island. (Mindanao Examiner)

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