Moslem Kidnappers Release One Red Cross Worker Precede MARAWI CITY
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Moslem kidnappers Sunday released one of two Swiss Red Cross workers abducted last week in a lawless area of Mindanao Island, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
Pierre Delacoste told The Associated Press that Alex Braunwalder was handed over Sunday afternoon to military officials in Marawi City, 510 miles south of Manila. Delacoste said he had been informed of the release in a radio report but had not spoken to Braunwalder.
Earlier, Col. Raul Aquino, local brigade commander, said there had been no progress in efforts to release Braunwalder, of St. Gallen, and Jacky Sudan of Fribourg, kidnapped along with several Filipino colleagues near Lake Lanao.
All the Filipinos later were released unharmed. Delacote said there was no word on Sudan’s fate.
Military officials initially said the kidnappers were disgruntled followers of the local Moslem governor, Tarhata Lucman. But Aquino told The Associated Press on Sunday the two later were held by a unit of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
It was not known when the front took control of the two Swiss. The rebel group is one of several Moslem groups waging a 15-year struggle for self-rule. Aquino said its leader is a commander named Bashir Manor.
Aquino said he had been forced to redeploy some of his troops away from the area where the workers were believed to be held because of fears that Moslem groups might try to disrupt Monday’s congressional elections in a wide area of Mindanao island.
The military postponed its deadline for the release several times to allow for negotiations to end the standoff.
Earlier, the original kidnappers dropped their demand for a $25,000 ransom, a vehicle and immunity from prosecution. It was not known if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had issued any new conditions for their release.