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The BBC's Jane Warr
"The hostages say one of their group is seriously ill"
 real 28k

Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Jungle nightmare for Philippines hostages
hostage
One hostage was lying on a makeshift stretcher in the jungle

Dramatic new film footage from the Philippines shows terrified and grief-stricken foreign hostages huddling in the jungle on Jolo Island as government troops shell the Muslim rebels holding them captive.

The hostages appeared gaunt and exhausted, and one of them pleaded for the fighting to stop. Some were crying.

The video footage showed a German woman lying on a makeshift stretcher, looking weak. Other hostages crouched next to her as gunfire and mortar rounds cracked in the background.


hostage
Seven of the hostages are from EU member states

The film was taken on Saturday, since when further clashes have been reported on the island in the southern Philippines, where the 21 hostages are being held.

The Abu Sayyaf separatist rebels seized the group from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan two weeks ago.

They include nine Malaysians, seven Germans, French and Finns, several South Africans, Filipinos and a Lebanese.

None of the hostages was reported wounded in the shelling.

But a government doctor who reached the Jolo captives on Saturday was quoted as saying the German woman needed immediate hospital treatment for hypertension.

Authorities' warning

The Philippine President, Joseph Estrada, warned the rebels holding hostages on Jolo and on the nearby island of Basilan that he was ready to use the full might of the security forces against them.

Mr Estrada was visiting troops and rescued hostages from Basilan in the southern city of Zamboanga.


Special forces on Basilan
Special forces search for Abu Sayyaf rebels on Basilan

At least 13 soldiers were reported killed in an ambush while searching for the remaining eight captives on Basilan.

Philippine troops rescued 15 earlier in the week, but found four others dead. Another two were found decapitated in a rebel camp, the army said on Saturday.

EU role

The European Union is sending its foreign policy representative, Javier Solana, to convey its concerns.

The Philippine authorities are due to have more talks with the kidnappers on Jolo on Monday, when they hope to learn more about their demands.


Joseph Estrada
Estrada: Hostages' lives to be protected, but a tough warning too

"We are determined to save the hostages... We hope that the kidnappers will realise that keeping the hostages will serve no useful purpose whatsoever," Mr Estrada said.

A BBC correspondent in Zamboanga says the military's often clumsy tactics have not helped efforts to begin substantive negotiations.



One negotiator, Ghazali Ibrahim, said the hostage-takers were believers in social justice and wanted the implementation of Islamic law in the region.

An Abu Sayyaf spokesman said he believed the crisis could take months to resolve.

On Saturday, six people were killed in two bus bombs in the southern Philippines.

The army blamed the blasts on the country's largest Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - despite the guerrillas' announcement of a 48-hour ceasefire.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hostages beheaded in Philippines
03 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
15 Philippines hostages freed
03 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines bomb kills four
01 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hostage drama highlights bitter conflict
01 May 00 | Media reports
Separatists warn of 'all-out war'
02 May 00 | World
Analysis: How hostages cope
19 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Swordsmen of God at war
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