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Kidnappers escape police dragnet in S Philippines
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14:10, February 21, 2009

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Kidnappers who are holding a Filipino-Chinese businessman and his 10-year-old daughter managed to escape local police's dragnet in the troubled southern Philippines.

Police Chief Superintendent Willy Danggane told Xinhua on Saturday "We have launched a house-to-house search and rescue operation in the nearby marshy areas of Kabuntalan township in Maguindanao Province where they were last seen but it turned out negative."

"Except on the first day where they ask our troops to halt our rescue operation, the kidnappers did not make any contacts with the victim's family," he added.

Earlier, the captors, who are holding Wilson Tan, in his 50s, and his daughter Jennifer phoned William, the brother of Wilson, asking the military and the police to withdraw their operation or they will hurt their captives.

Tan and his daughter were snatched by four armed men at gunpoint on Feb. 18 in front of their residence in Cotabato.

"We are exerting all our efforts along with the military, but we strictly observe our no-ransom policy," Danggane said.

At the same time, police officials said they have tapped local Muslim religious leaders in effort to recover the kidnapped victims.

The military said the victims are in the hands of Hadji Musa, a follower of the notorious Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group leader Tahir Alonto, blamed for the abduction of Italian priest Guissepe Pierrantoni in Zamboanga del Sur Province in 2001.

Pierrantoni was released after six months in captivity. The group also kidnapped five Chinese engineers and a Filipino guide in May 2001 in central Mindanao.

Tan's abduction occurred just as troops are hunting down Abu Sayyaf militants holding a Sri Lankan national Umar Jaleel of Nonviolent Peaceforce on the Basilan island and three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross -- Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba -- on Jolo island of the neighboring Sulu Province.

The Abu Sayyaf is a group founded by radical Muslim rebels in 1991. It is blamed for a series of kidnappings and terror attacks in the Philippines, including the bombing of a passenger ferry at the Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

Source: Xinhua

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