Kidnappers free remaining five state employees in S. Philippines

13:22, October 26, 2009      

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Armed men believed leftist rebels freed on Sunday night the remaining five state environmental employees they had abducted in the restive southern Philippines.

Regional military spokesman Major Randolph Cabangbang said the victims, all workers of Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, were released by their captors shortly after 7 p.m..

Cabangbang said they were turned over to Jake Dumagan, a director for the National Commission on Indigenous People who acted as negotiator.

"There was no ransom paid to captors in exchange for their freedom," the military official said.

Gunmen in the village of Anticala in the southern city of Butuan on Oct. 21 seized seven DENR workers. Two of them, Efren Sabuero and Emeliano Gatillo Jr., were freed two days later.

Earlier, the military blamed leftist New People's Army insurgents as brained in the latest incident of kidnapping as the area, where the victims were taken, was guerillas infested.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for four decades.

Military estimates placed the NPA strength at more than 5,000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

The military is also faced with three other kidnapping crises, including abduction of Irish priest Michael Sinnot in Pagadian City and a school teacher in Sulu.

Source: Xinhua
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