Kidnapped Italian Priest Is Alive In Mindanao

July 2, 2007 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 02 Jul) – The Philippine military on Monday said a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest is still alive, but his health could be deteriorating by this time — three weeks after he was seized by rebels on the volatile region of Mindanao.

Military chief Gen. Hemogenes Esperon said they have reports that Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions, is alive and being held by rouge members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“We have indications of life, but we do not want to discuss the details because it could give away the location and by giving away the location it could also give the identities of the people working on it in the end it might jeopardize the safety of Father Bossi,” Esperon said.

The 57-year old Bossi, from Milan, was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Esperon said the safety of Bossi is important and that an armed rescue would endanger his life. ”Anybody who is a captive would be in danger and things could happen at anytime, so we want to be very careful about it,” he said.

The MILF, which denied any involvement in the kidnapping of Bossi, is also helping authorities search for the priest. It said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.

But Bossi’s group said it has neither received any demands nor does it know who the kidnappers are.

“Since the beginnings the Italian government has gone into action in the Philippines through its ambassador and in Italy through the Foreign Ministry’s crisis unit to provide PIME with all the necessary support.”

“Indeed tomorrow a delegation from the crisis unit will arrive in Mindanao to work with local political and Church authorities as well as PIME missionaries. For this reason to view the event as a conflict between Christians and Muslims is for the time being unjustified,” said Fr Gian Battista Zanchi, PIME Superior General. (Juley Reyes and Joseph Danda)

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