No contact with Red Cross workers for over a week

GENEVA – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday said it had not had direct contact with three of its staff abducted last month in the Philippines for more than a week.

The hostages — Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba — were abducted on January 15 during a humanitarian mission on the island of Jolo.

Their kidnappers, thought by military officials to be members of the armed Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, had allowed the three hostages to talk on the telephone ago with the ICRC and their families one week ago.

“Since then, we have not had any direct contact with them,” Alain Aeschlimann — who heads ICRC operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific — said in a statement.

“We are concerned about their health and about the fatigue and stress they are suffering,” he added.

While there has been a lot of speculation, the ICRC said it did not know the exact whereabouts of the three.

“All we can say at this stage is that we know they have been on the move over recent days and that they have had to walk in very difficult conditions, through the jungle and often in the rain,” Aeschlimann said.

The humanitarian organisation has not confirmed whether it was indeed Abu Sayyaf that kidnapped the three employees, who were visiting a prison at the time of their abduction.

Abu Sayyaf once received funding from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, and is also on the US list of foreign terrorist organisations.

The group has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the Philippines, as well as for several high-profile kidnappings since 2000.

Agence France-Presse

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm  Comments Off on No contact with Red Cross workers for over a week  
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