Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Army clashes with militants holding Red Cross hostage

Latest update : 2009-04-23

Army troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants who were holding a sick Italian Red Cross worker hostage in the southern Philippines, military sources said. Police believe Eugenio Vagni, 62, may have been abandoned by his captors.

AFP - Troops clashed with Islamic militants holding a sick Italian Red Cross worker hostage in the southern Philippines, as the crisis entered its 99th day Thursday, the military said.
   
There were no immediate details of casualties and no word on the fate of Eugenio Vagni, 62, who intelligence reports earlier said was unable to walk due to a hernia and who police fear may have been abandoned.
   
The fighting took place Wednesday as Abu Sayyaf militants who had kidnapped Vagni tried to escape from a jungle area on the island of Jolo, military spokesman Brigadier General Gaudencio Pangilinan told reporters in Manila.
   
"It was a big group, about 50 of them," Pangilinan said of the Abu Sayyaf unit, adding they were carrying high-powered firearms including rocket launchers.
   
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno confirmed fighting had taken place and said troops had set up blockades near Jolo's coastal villages to prevent the Abu Sayyaf from escaping by sea.
   
National police chief Director General Jesus Versoza said authorities suspected Vagni may have been abandoned by his captors, and offered a 500,000 peso (10,416 dollars) reward for information leading to his recovery.
   
"We are really concerned now on the present state of health of Mr Vagni," Versoza said.
   
Officials said the rebels were trying to reach the town of Talipao, where they were said to be planning to merge with a bigger Abu Sayyaf command entrenched in the area.
   
Vagni was abducted in mid January along with fellow International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) colleagues Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Mary Jean Lacaba of the Philippines while on a humanitarian mission.
   
Lacaba was released on April 2 while Notter was safely recovered by authorities on April 18.
   
There have also been fears that the increasingly desperate Abu Sayyaf group may try to harm Vagni as they evade troops in the jungle.
   
The Geneva-based ICRC said Wednesday it was "extremely worried" for Vagni and repeated a call for his immediate and unconditional release.
   
Notter, who also spoke at the press conference, said he last saw Vagni on April 16, the day the militants separated them and moved in smaller groups.
   
He said it rained constantly in the tropical jungle and the harsh conditions had taken their toll physically and mentally.
   
"I am very concerned about my colleague, Eugenio Vagni, particularly because of his health," Notter said. "He has a hernia, which is making it difficult for him to walk."
   
In an intelligence report Wednesday, the military said Vagni was unable to walk and was being carried by his captors.
   
The Abu Sayyaf was founded in the 1990s ostensibly to fight for an independent Islamic state. The group later branched off into high-profile abductions and bombings and is on the US government's list of wanted foreign terrorist organisations.
 

Date created : 2009-04-23

COMMENT(S)