Philippines: Muslim group helps efforts to rescue kidnapped priest

 The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is helping in operations to rescue Italian priest John Carlo Bossi who was kidnapped on Sunday. Philippines army general Maj Gen Ben Mohammad Dolorfino said the MILF has deployed its forces to an area where the kidnappers are believed to be keeping the victim. The general said he hoped peaceful negotiations would win the release of Fr Bossi. "What is important is the safety of the victim," he said. Fr Bossi, parish priest of Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay, was abducted in a remote village of Batuwalan while on his way to say Mass. His driver was released by the kidnappers. Bossi is the second Italian priest to be kidnapped in Mindanao since October 2001 when members of the Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group snatched Giussepe Piarantoni while celebrating Mass in Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur. Piarantoni was released by his captors, who are also behind a number of high-profile kidnappings in the South, reportedly after civilian negotiators paid a hefty ransom. AFP public information office chief Lt Col Bartolome Bacarro said the military's rescue operations is concentrated on Tungawan town where the kidnappers were last seen heading aboard pump boats. However, he said the continuing rescue efforts by the Army's 102nd Brigade has so far yielded negative results. Bacarro said the military operations would not stop until Bossi is secured from his captors. He said the Army operations are being supported by other military units, including the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine National Police. He said the Navy is conducting "blocking operations in the sea lanes."

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