Boat Used In Transporting Kidnapped Italian Missioner Recovered In Lanao del Norte

June 25, 2007 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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LANAO DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Jun) – Police forces have stepped up its search for a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the southern Philippines after security forces recovered a destroyed speedboat used by gunmen in spiriting out the foreigner to Lanao del Norte province.

Police said it recovered the parts of the boat believed used in transporting the prelate, Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, from Zamboanga Sibugay province where he was kidnapped June 10 by rebels.

The boat, originally painted blue, was covered in white paint to conceal its true color, police said, adding, parts of the wooden craft had been found on a coastal village near Sultan Naga Dimaporo town.

Philippine Army commanders earlier said the priest is still being held in Zamboanga Sibugay and that soldiers have surrounded the lairs of the kidnappers, headed by Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

The MILF denied involvement in the kidnapping and is helping authorities recover the priest. Rebel forces last week also said it destroyed a boat used in the kidnapping of the priest.

Bossi, 57, is said to be suffering from hypertension and needs his medication, his fellow Italian priests said.

The kidnappers were demanding one million dollars for Bossi’s release. And independent sources said politicians in Lanao del Norte were trying to negotiate for Bossi’s freedom.

But aside from politicians, private negotiators were also trying to seek the release of the prelate.

The Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions has recently put up an Internet diary to keep Italians updated on news about the kidnapped priest from Milan. The diary dedicated to Bossi showed a photo believed that of the kidnapped missioner standing guarded in the middle of a marshland.

The photo raised speculations that there is a secret negotiation going on between the kidnappers, the MILF and the Italian government.

Filipino authorities have provided no information about the priest. Bossi’s superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo, previously said they will not pay ransom.

Sandalo, who is based in Zamboanga City, has traveled to Zamboanga Sibugay a day after Bossi’s kidnapping to monitor the progress of the search.

The Italian Ambassador Rubens Fedele has flown to Zamboanga City and also traveled back and forth to Zamboanga Sibugay trying to get more information about Bossi.

Both Sandalo and Fedele said they have no reports on the whereabouts of the kidnapped priest or anything that will prove Bossi is still alive.

Marine Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, head of the ad hoc joint action group, said the kidnappers wanted to negotiate for the release of the priest, but provided no proof that Bossi is still alive.

“An intermediary has contacted me and said the kidnappers want to negotiate with us for the safe release of the priest, but we need a proof here that Bossi is alive and well,” he told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner. (With a report from Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

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