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Pope appeals for release of Red Cross workers kidnapped in Philippines

 Pope Benedict issued an appeal yesterday for the release of three Red Cross workers kidnapped on the island of Jolo in the Philippines by an extremist group.

In a statement, the Vatican said: "The Holy Father, sharing the concern of the families, and of everyone worried about the safety of the three Red Cross workers, wishes to raise his voice and make an appeal that humanitarian values and reason may prevail over violence and intimidation.

"The Holy Father, in the name of God, asks for the hostages to be released and calls upon the authorities to favour a peaceful solution to the dramatic situation".

The three hostages, Mary Jean Lacaba, a Filipina, Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Eugenio Vagni of Italy were kidnapped from Patikul in Sulu on January 15 after they visited a provincial jail to check on a project there. The Abu Sayyaf had threatened to execute a hostage if government troops did not pull out of five towns in Sulu by 2pm yesterday.

There have been prayers across the Philippines for their safe release.

Source: VIS/Fides