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Hostage's family calls for Swiss intervention

The family of a Swiss hostage being held in the Philippines has criticised the foreign ministry, saying it should be doing more to secure his release.

Andreas Notter is one of three workers of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held since January in the Philippines island of Jolo by Abu Sayyaf militants.

In an open letter published on Tuesday in the Aargauer Zeitung newspaper, Notter's family said Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey should call Philippines President Gloria Arroyo and demand the retreat of armed forces from the island in order to protect the hostages.

The captors clashed with Philippines troops last week and have threatened to behead Notter or Italian hostage Eugenio Vagni if the marines do not stay away from the area.

In an interview with the same newspaper, Notter's brother Peter on Tuesday called on Calmy-Rey to become personally involved in the case.

"We do not believe that the foreign ministry has done enough up until this point. We have only heard impressive-sounding words," he said.

The foreign ministry responded by saying it had been constantly working towards Notter's release, with a special crisis unit set up which has remained in touch with the ICRC. Calmy-Rey said she was concerned about the hostage situation but noted that the ICRC was in charge of negotiations.

Abu Sayyaf has demanded that the military leave as a condition for freeing the hostages. The military has rejected the demand. In 2001 an American was beheaded by another group of Abu Sayyaf rebels after Manila refused a prisoner exchange.

swissinfo with agencies


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