Hostage released in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines, April 2 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed Thursday the release of one hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines.

ICRC officials said Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, who along with two other Red Cross workers had been held by Abu Sayyaf since January 15, was released Thursday. Abu Sayyaf, an al-Qaida-linked extremist group, is still holding Swiss citizen Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni on Jolo, an island in the southwest of the country, the ICRC reported.


Abu Sayyaf has been demanding that all of the Philippines police withdraw from 15 villages on Jolo and had been threatening to decapitate one of the hostages before the release of Lacaba.

According to the ICRC, Lacaba was freed around 9 p.m. Manila time Thursday and appears to be in good health.

"For Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter, their loved ones and the whole of the ICRC, the nightmare of this abduction is not over," Alain Aeschlimann, ICRC head of operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

"Once again, we ask that they remain unharmed."


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