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Kidnapped Italian Freed in Southern Philippines

An Italian aid worker walked free from the southern Philippines jungle on Wednesday, a day after he was abducted by local gunmen, officials said. Local officials and Muslim religious leaders in the Lanao region of Mindanao island convinced the gunmen to free 29-year-old Andrea Cianferoni, said local Marine commander Colonel Ben Dolorfino.The Italian, a member of the non-governmental relief organization Movimondo, was abducted with two Filipino co-workers near the town of Kauswagan on Mindanao island on Tuesday. The kidnappers had been demanding 240,000 pesos (US$4,263) in ransom, according to the military. Dolorfino did not say if any money was paid and did not know if the kidnappers were arrested Dolorfino said the negotiators’ work was made easier with the help of separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas, who blocked the kidnappers’ escape route after a rebel spokesman denied that their units were responsible for the abduction. “We received information that the kidnappers were not able to get away because they saw that the MILF were operating in the area and looking for them,” Dolorfino said over ABS-CBN television here. The armed group, which has an estimated 11,000 members, has been waging a decades-old separatist campaign in the Muslim south. It has been observing a two year-old ceasefire and is expected to begin peace talks with the Philippine government within the year. Dolorfino said the negotiators had taken the Italian to the southern city of Iligan.In Rome, Movimondo officials said the kidnappers had demanded an unspecified amount they described as “a mere pittance” for Cianferoni’s freedom. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu had earlier denied that any of their units were involved in the kidnapping. It was reported that Cianferoni has been working with poor Muslim communities in the southern Philippines for two years.Full Story

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