Red Cross loses contact with Vagni

MANILA, Philippines—Members of the International Committee of the Red Cross have reportedly lost contact with their kidnapped member, Eugenio Vagni, as fresh fighting erupted in Sulu province in an attempt to rescue the Italian volunteer from the Abu Sayyaf group.

In a statement posted on their website, Alain Aeschlimann, ICRC head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia, and the Pacific, said Vagni last contacted his wife on June 2 and has not contacted any friends or family members since.

“As ever, we’re very worried about Eugenio. We hope we will hear from him soon and that he’s okay,” Aeschlimann said.

Meanwhile, attempts to rescue Vagni are ongoing.

In a report from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police, a soldier was hurt when members of the Philippine Marines encountered the group of Dr. Abu and Albader Parad at the villages of Tukay and Paugan in Parang town Sunday morning.

The report said one Corporal Christopher Aypa was wounded in the incident that occurred at 6:05 a.m., while at least three members of the rebel group were killed.

Continuing clashes between government troops and the rebels have worried the ICRC, Aeschlimann said.

“That kind of news always leaves us very concerned for Eugenio’s safety, because we don’t know where he is. And of course we’re concerned about the fate of any civilians in the area who are affected by the fighting. Our concern also extends to the people who are working to bring about Eugenio’s release. We regret the loss of civilian life and express our sympathies to the families of those killed in the line of duty,” he added.

The ICRC official also admitted that the organization was under “immense pressure” because of the situation.

“We are maintaining contact with everyone involved in efforts to resolve this crisis, in particular the local and national authorities. We emphasize once again that Eugenio’s safety is our primary concern,” Aeschlimann said.

Vagni has been held captive for 159 days now.

Abigail Kwok

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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