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3 aid workers abducted in Philippines

Gunmen abducted three aid workers on Thursday from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines on a southern island where Muslim militants are active, the local Red Cross said.

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 11:34 IST

Gunmen abducted three aid workers on Thursday from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines on a southern island where Muslim militants are active, the local Red Cross said. The three representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross were in a car on their way to Jolo airport after visiting a local jail when they were intercepted by motorcycle-riding gunmen who took them away in their vehicle, said Sen Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross.

The driver and two other Filipinos were released and reported the incident, he told The Associated Press.

The island is a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which is notorious for kidnappings and terror attacks. Gordon refused to say who may have been responsible.

"It is my hope that these people realize that the Red Cross is there to help them. The Red Cross is neutral," he said. Military spokeswoman Lt Estefani Cacho identified the kidnapped workers as Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Jean Lacaba. She had no other details.