Backgrounder: Development of the Red Cross hostage crisis in Philippines 2009-03-31 17:54:17   Print

    MANILA, March 31 (Xinhua) -- The following is the development line of the kidnapping of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers -- Swiss national Andreas Notter, 38, Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, 37.

    -- On Jan. 15, the three international aid workers were snatched from their vehicle at gun-point in Patikul town on Jolo island after the ICRC team carried out a prison water and sanitation project on the island.

    -- On Jan. 28, Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidulla visited the kidnapped ICRC team in Jolo jungles and publicized the first photo of the three after abduction. Sahidulla confirmed that Abu Sayyaf top leaders Abu Ali, Raddulan Sahiron, Albader Parad, were behind the abduction.

    -- On Feb. 2, the Abu Sayyaf asked Philippine Vice President Noli De Castro to head the government commissaries to come to Jolofor hostage release negotiation. But the call was rejected by the government.

    -- On Feb. 5, the Church-run DzEC radio aired the phone interview with kidnapped Red Cross workers who urged the authorities to work for their fast release.

    -- By early February, government troops, policemen and armed civilian volunteers started to forge a loose cordon to encircle the area in the hinterland of Jolo where the hostages were believed to be held.

    -- On Feb. 10, Abu Sayyaf militants trying to break through the military cordon fired mortar shells, wounding ten civilians in nearby villages.

    -- On March 16, Abu Sayyaf militants again clashed with marines encircling them, resulting at least six dead and 19 wounded on both sides. Albader Parad also reportedly suffered slight injuries in the clash.

    -- On March 19, security forces encircling the hostage-holding militants withdrew a few miles to exchange for the release of one hostage. But the Abu Sayyaf broke the release pledge and demanded a full pull-out of troops on Jolo island.

    -- On March 23, the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead one of the three hostages if government troops stationed in Jolo are not pulled back to the vicinity of Sulu capital town Jolo by March 31.

    -- On March 27, Philippine Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno the demand was "unreasonable" and the government can't afford to surrender the entire province of Sulu to the Abu Sayyaf by succumbing to its demand of a complete pull-out.

    -- On March 28, government troops further withdrew from the Abu Sayyaf's stronghold in Jolo, leaving about 140 square kilometers space for the militants to move around, after ICRC president JakobKellenberger made a rare public appeal for the hostages' release.

    -- On March 30, Pope Benedict XVI appealed to the Abu Sayyaf to let go the hostages while calling on authorities to work out a peaceful solution plan.

    -- On March 31, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan declared state of emergency of the province shortly after the Abu Sayyaf's deadline to behead one of the hostages elapsed at 2 p.m. local time (0600 GMT).

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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