Time running out, says ICRC hostage

MANILA, Philippines—One of three Red Cross workers held hostage by Islamic militants in the southern Philippines urged the government Thursday to move fast in securing their release after threats to behead them.

Speaking to ANC television by mobile phone, Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba said they sometimes had nothing to eat as their Abu Sayyaf captors tried to escape pursuing troops.

“Please tell them (the government) that if they can help, to make it faster because time is running out on us,” Lacaba told the network.

Lacaba, 27, was seized along with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) colleagues Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Andreas Notter of Switzerland on the southern Jolo island on January 15.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small and radical Islamic group, has not made its demands clear, although previous abductions blamed on them have often led to millions of dollars in ransom being paid.

Last week, three Marines were killed and 19 wounded as the militants tried to break through a military cordon around the dense jungle area where they are keeping the hostages.

Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad, who was wounded in the clashes, has given the government until March 31 to pull its troops back or one of the hostages will be beheaded, a provincial official said Wednesday.

The military has rejected the demand, and warned that lifting the security cordon could lead to the escape of the isolated rebel band.

Founded in the 1990s, the Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the Philippines’ worst terrorist attacks. It has carried out several high-profile abductions over the past decade, and has been known to behead captives and soldiers.

Agence France-Presse

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Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on Time running out, says ICRC hostage  
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