x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Charity worker released by militants

A Swiss Red Cross worker is released after being held hostage in the southern Philippines for three months.

A Swiss Red Cross worker held hostage by Muslim extremists for three months in the southern Philippines was released unharmed today, said Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. Andreas Notter was freed in the town of Indanan on the southern island of Jolo and is currently in the protection of Jolo provincial governor Abdusakur Tan, Mr Teodoro told local radio. Mr Notter was kidnapped with two other International Committee of the Red Cross workers on January 15 while leaving a prison on the island.

The Filipina, Mary Jean Lacaba, was released on April 2. Provincial police chief Julasirim Kasim said he had no information about the last remaining hostage, an Italian Eugenio Vagni. He did not elaborate on Mr Notter's condition or give any details about the circumstances of his release by the Abu Sayyaf militant group. The group had threatened to behead one of the foreign hostages unless Philippine government forces pulled back from around their positions on Jolo.

Abu Sayyaf militants have kidnapped several other westerners over the past decade, many of whom, according to the Philippine military, were released after the payment of large ransoms. The militants also murdered an American hostage, Guillermo Sobero, in 2001. The following year a second American, Christian missionary Martin Burnham, was killed in a military attack that led to the rescue of his wife.