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ICRC pleads for Philippines trio

Red Cross Youth Volunteers vigil for ICRC hostages, Manila 25 Feb 09
Fillipinos hold a vigil for the kidnapped Red Cross workers

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has made a rare public appeal on behalf of three staff being held hostage in the Philippines.

Jakob Kellenberger urged the government in Manila to intervene.

He said officials should consider the demands made by the Islamist militants who are holding the hostages on the southern island of Jolo.

He also called on the kidnappers not to harm their three hostages, who were seized more than two months ago.

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Mr Kellenberger said Red Cross staff were in the Philippines to do humanitarian work, and that nothing whatsoever could be achieved by hurting them.

The rebels - members of the Abu Sayyaf armed group - want government forces to pull back from positions near their stronghold where the hostages are thought to be held.

The rebels are threatening to behead one of the three hostages - Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba - if their demands are not met.

The Red Cross has been in contact with their kidnapped workers at various times in the last two months but there has also been fighting in the area and that has intensified concerns for the hostages' plight.



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