Six dead as Philippine troops battle kidnappers

Philippine marines clashed for a second day today with al-Qa'ida-linked militants holding three Red Cross workers hostage, killing at least six combatants and wounding 19 troops, officials said.



There was no word about the fate of the hostages — a Swiss, an Italian and a Filipino — held for more than two months but their agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross, expressed concern that a military rescue could harm them.

The fighting erupted when Abu Sayyaf gunmen led by Albader Parad attempted to break out of a loose cordon set up by government forces to box in dozens of militants and their hostages in a hilly jungle near southern Jolo island's Indanan township.

The military said Parad may have been wounded by marine snipers but there was no immediate confirmation.

Fighting resumed Tuesday, leaving three militants and three marines dead and 19 troops wounded, said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan and Jolo Governor Abdusakur Tan.

"They are desperate. They want to get out of the constriction area," Pangilinan told reporters, referring to the Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

Red Cross officials late Monday expressed worry that the hostages — Swiss Andreas Notter, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni — could be harmed by military action to try to free them.

"Their safety is paramount. We repeat our call that no action should be taken that could put (their lives) in danger," Alain Aeschlimann, head of ICRC Southeast Asia-Pacific operations, said in a statement.

The workers were kidnapped on 15 January after inspecting a Jolo jail water project.

So far, military officials have refrained from rescuing them to ensure their safety and to allow local officials to negotiate their safe release.

The Abu Sayyaf, however, has demanded that the military back off from its stronghold before any negotiation can take place. The government has rejected any such demands.

Tan, who heads a task force overseeing the hostage crisis, said he had not authorized a military rescue but added troops can open fire if the militants attempt to escape from the jungle area or if Abu Sayyaf gunmen attack.

"Anytime they attempt to escape, we'll engage them," Tan told the AP by telephone. "It's clear that the Abu Sayyaf is feeling the pressure of the military presence."

U.S. and Philippine officials have offered a reward for the capture or killing of Parad, a young militant who has gained notoriety for alleged involvement in past kidnappings and beheadings. Last month, Parad acknowledged on television that his group was holding the Red Cross workers.

The Abu Sayyaf has about 400 members and is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations for its links with al-Qaida and involvement in kidnappings, bombings and beheadings.

Officials say the guerrillas may have resorted to a rash of kidnappings to raise badly needed funds after they lost most connections to foreign financiers when many of their commanders were killed in U.S.-backed offensives.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable