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Philippines rejects new demands by Red Cross kidnappers

"Manila - Philippine authorities Sunday rejected fresh demands by Muslim militants for government forces to withdraw from a wide area of a southern island where the rebels were holding captive two European Red Cross workers.

The al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebel group also renewed their threat to kill the two hostages - Swiss Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni - unless troops pulled back from their jungle
hideout on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

The rebels freed one of the hostages, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, last Thursday without ransom. But they refused to free the two Europeans and reiterated their demand for troops to pull out to pave the way for negotiations.

Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said the government could not give in to the demands of the Abu Sayyaf because a troop pullout would endanger communities on Jolo." (2009,


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