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Philippines beefing up police forces to handle kidnapping in south
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18:18, February 18, 2009

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The Philippine authorities are sending more police forces to the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo to tame the rampant kidnapping, the country's police chief said Wednesday.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said he will deploy police anti-crime and emergency response units and intelligence personnel to the region plagued by kidnapping-for-ransom groups.

"We are concentrating our efforts in all of these in Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu areas," Verzosa said.

Verzosa said the plan is to slowly beef up police regional mobile group there by re-assigning servicemen from the Visayas and Luzon regions.

The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group is holding three employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross -- Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Bagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba -- in the hinterlands of Jolo island while at least six people, including a nine-year-old, a lending company employee, three teachers, and a Sri Lankan peace worker, remain in captive on Basilan island, some 900 kilometers south of Manila.

The security forces have forged a loose cordon around the area where the Red Cross hostages are allegedly being kept but the military authority said it would not use force until all non-violent means for the rescue operation are exhausted.

The authorities did not reveal the actual number of security forces being deployed in Jolo. 


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