World | Philippines

Rebels join troops in search for priest

Government soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters are jointly combing the jungles of Southern Philippines' Zamboanga Sibugay province in a bid to rescue Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was abducted by gunmen last Sunday.

  • By Gilbert Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 June 12, 2007
  • Gulf News

Manila: Government soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters are jointly combing the jungles of Southern Philippines' Zamboanga Sibugay province in a bid to rescue Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was abducted by gunmen last Sunday.

Major General Ben Mohammad Dolorfino, co-chair of the joint government-MILF action panel, said Moro rebels had offered assistance to help trace Bossi, reportedly kidnapped by a group of 10 armed men in the coastal village of Bulawan.

"The BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) has sent people to supervise operations of local BIAF units in the area. GRP-MILF AHJAG (Government of the Republic of the Philippines, MILF-Ad Hoc Joint Action Group) team members are closely in touch," Dolorfino was quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency as saying.

The AHJAG is a special body formed by both sides four years ago to coordinate joint activities against criminal elements in the Central Mindanao region. The panel abides by a standing ceasefire agreement between the two sides.

"As of now we have not received any ransom demands from the kidnappers," said an armed forces spokesman. Army officials said they had information that an armed group under a certain "Commander Khidi" was behind the abduction.

"As far as the MILF is concerned, he (Khidi) is not a member of the MILF," Dolorfino was quoted by the Philippine News Agency report as saying.

- With inputs from Rafael Juan

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