Muslim rebels send troops to locate abducted Irish priest in S Philippines

20:08, October 16, 2009      

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The Philippines largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, dispatched troops on Friday to help state locate a 79-year-old Irish priest abducted by gunmen in the volatile southern island of Mindanao.

Rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said they are also verifying reports the Christian missionary, Father Mechael Sinnott, was turned over by his captors to a certain Latip Jamat, a rebel commander operating in the province of Lanao del Norte.

Kabalu said Jamat belongs to their 113rd Base Command operating in the region.

"If indeed he (Jamat) is the one holding the priest, he will face the consequence of his action," Kabalu said.

Sinnot, who was also teaching at the St. Columbian College, was forcibly taken away around 7:30 p.m. by armed men at gunpoint from his house in the southern city of Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur.

The kidnappers fled on board a motorized boat towards coastal Sta. Lucia District village. The latest information released by Philippine troops showed the victim was brought to a rebel infested area in the province of Lanao del Sur.

On Thursday, militants holding the priest phoned their captive's colleagues but the Philippine military refused to divulged to media any information for security reasons.

Meanwhile, state police have sealed off entry and exit areas in the provinces of Lanao del Sur.

Supt. Danilo Bacas, spokesman for the police in the region, said troops were directed to ensure that the kidnappers could not slip out of the province.

Several armed groups are known to be operating in the region, including the extremist group Abu Sayyaf. The group is behind a number of high profile kidnapping and bombings in the country.

In 2007, Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi was taken at gunpoint on his way to celebrate Mass in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay. He was released after 33 days in captivity.

In 2001, Pentagon kidnappers abducted Italian priest Guissepe Pierrantoni while he was officiating a Mass in Dimatali town, Zamboanga del Sur.

Pierrantoni was released on April 8, 2002, after six months in captivity.

Source:Xinhua
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