Irish priest kidnapped in S. Philippines said to be alive

14:53, October 26, 2009      

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Muslim rebels who are helping in the search and rescue operation for the abducted 79-year-old Irish priest in the southern Philippines said the ailing missionary is still alive.

"He (Father Michael Sinnott) is alive and the information circulating that he is dead is part of his captor's diversionary tactics," Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu told Xinhua in a phone interview Monday.

Father Michael Sinnott was abducted from his house in Pagadian city on Oct. 11. Authorities initially blamed a group of pirates, led by one Guingona Samal, behind the abduction.

Kabalu added that Sinnott and his kidnappers are in the province of Lanao del Sur. But he declined to disclose their exact location so as not to preempt the efforts between the kidnappers and Philippine authorities.

MILF Chairman Ibrahim Murad said he has ordered his troops to closely monitor the whereabouts of the abducted priest, to identify and eventually apprehend the captors.

"The MILF is obliged to exert its best efforts to help for the safe and immediate recovery of Father Sinnot," Murad said.

Sinnott is the second Western missionary kidnapped in southern Philippines in the past five years. Italian priest Giancarlo Bossispent a month in jungle captivity before he was released by Abu Sayyaf militants in 2007.

Source: Xinhua
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