Government appeals to ICRC kidnappers

The Swiss government has made a humanitarian appeal to militants in the Philippines to release three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers.

This content was published on April 1, 2009 - 17:25

"We appeal to your sense of humanity. Please spare the lives of the hostages," the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday the Philippines government said it was confident the three ICRC workers held by Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants since mid-January were alive, one day after a rebel deadline to behead one of the captives expired.

Interior secretary Ronaldo Puno said government authorities had "highly reliable" information that the three hostages – Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Philippines woman Mary Jean Lacaba – were safe and unharmed but admitted there was no proof they were alive.

"These three ICRC workers went to the Philippines, in particular to [the southern island of] Jolo, to help the local people in purely humanitarian ways. We implore the kidnappers to show compassion and to release Mary Jean, Andreas and Eugenio without further delay and in good health," the Swiss government statement said.

"Switzerland will not cease in its efforts and to work in close co-operation with the ICRC, the governments of the Philippines and Italy to find a peaceful outcome to this hostage taking."

swissinfo with agencies

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