Friday, March 20, 2009

Philippine Rebels Threaten to Behead Red Cross Hostages

The Abu Sayyaf rebels holding three Red Cross workers hostage since January have threatened to behead the captives in retaliation for a raid earlier this week that killed several insurgents, as well as 3 Philippine Marines. Via Soldier of Fortune:
The leader of Abu Sayyaf rebels, Albader Parad, made the threat in a radio interview Wednesday, saying he would harm one of three Red Cross workers being held. He made the comment after clashes that killed at least three soldiers and two militants.

The Red Cross is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mary Jean Lacaba, Eugenio Vagni, and Andreas Notter, who were taken hostage on January 15. A statement says Red Cross staffers are “extremely worried” about the safety of the hostages.

The head of the local Red Cross, Philippines Senator Richard Gordon, said he spoke with Parad on Wednesday. He said Parad told him the three hostages are alive and unharmed, but very tired.

On Tuesday, a military spokesman, Gaudencio Pangilinan, said troops recovered tents and other equipment belonging to the three captives.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen have asked the Philippines military to withdraw from the area before they would enter into negotiations for the aid workers’ release.

Philippine media said the kidnappers have demanded a $1 million ransom. The government has said it will not pay.

Urgent prayers are needed for the safety of the three hostages, and for the safety of other aid workers in the Philippines and elsewhere.

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