Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Pope appeals to Abu Sayyaf to release ICRC hostages

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MANILA, Philippines - All the three Red Cross workers abducted by the Abu Sayyaf remain safe, hours after the expiration of the deadline set by the al Qaeda-linked bandits, Sulu Gov. Abdusakar Tan told GMANews' 24 Oras at about 7 p.m., Tuesday.

The deadline ended at 2 p.m., Tuesday, and was reportedly extended to 3 p.m. The Abu Sayyaf gave an ultimatum to the government to pull out all its troops from 14 villages in four Sulu towns or the bandits would behead one of the hostages.

Tan confirmed to GMA News that another group was communicating with the abductors for the release of the Red Cross workers, and that his team had stopped negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf after he declared a state of emergency in Sulu.

"Yun po ang usapan namin na hindi muna po ako makikipag-usap sa kanila dahil nagdeclare na ako ng state of emergency, [That was our agreement, that I would not talk to them for the mean time because I have declared state of emergency], said Tan.

He said he made the declaration for the protection of Sulu residents who could be affected by the Abu Sayyaf operations in the area.

In the declaration, Tan ordered the police with the assistance of the military to set up checkpoints and choke points in the province, impose curfew in the whole of Sulu, and conduct general search and seizure, including arrest in the pursuit of the kidnappers and their supporters.

Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Swiss Andreas Notter, and Italian Eugenio Vagni, all working for the International Committee of the Red Cross, were abducted last January 15 by a faction of the Abu Sayyaf led by Albader Parad. - GMANews.TV

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