Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Philippine troops clash with Sayyaf; fate of Italian hostage unknown

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 12, 2009) – Government troops clashed Tuesday with suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippine province of Sulu where the group is holding a kidnapped Italian aid worker, military reports said.

It said the clash broke out in the hinterland of Indanan town where security forces are pursuing the kidnappers of Eugenio Vagni, a staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

There were no reports of casualties or news about Vagni, who was kidnapped January 15 in Patikul town with fellow aid workers Andreas Notter, a Swiss national and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba. Both Lacaba and Notter had been released separately last month.

Last week, Abu Sayyaf militants ambushed a police convoy in Indanan town and killed five people, one of them the provincial police chief Julasirim Kasim. Four militants, among them as former soldier, were also killed by police forces.

Aside from Vagni, another faction of the Abu Sayyaf is also holding captive Xili Wu, a Chinese trader kidnapped also in Jolo town in December last year.

In February, the Abu Sayyaf freed a Chinese bakery owner, Dionghan Que, they seized in Jolo town. Que snatched while on his way home on a motorcycle. (Mindanao Examiner)

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