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Bisaya Bloggers » Fr Giancarlo Bossi

Jan 22 2008

Former Kidnapped Victim, Italian Priest Bossi Returns To Southern RP To Continue Mission

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 23, 2008) – An Italian missioner kidnapped and freed by Muslim gunmen last year in the southern Philippines is returning to his parish on a remote village in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, is expected to arrive in Manila this week from Italy. “I feel good and I am happy to go back to my mission,” Bossi told the Catholic media AsiaNews in Rome.

Bossi was kidnapped June 10 last year in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province and freed more than a month later after private negotiators allegedly paid a still undetermined amount of ransom.

The clergy returned to Italy on August 10 shortly after his release from captivity and met with the Pope at the Youth Agora in Loreto town.

In Manila, Bossi will meet with fellow priests before flying to Zamboanga. The clergy had long wanted to return to Payao town to continue his missionary works.

“I want to go back as soon as possible to my parish in Payao, to my children.

The poor need people who can give them unlimited and unconditional love, and in Payao people are poor,” he said. “Whilst I was physically a prisoner, too many people are imprisoned by poverty. And their captivity can last a lifetime.”

Bossi is well respected and loved by both Muslim and Christian villagers in Payao where a road was named after the missioner. The clergy is widely known to help the poor and had taken care many children in the town.

“In Italy, I saw children look at food and say that’s yucky. In the Philippines I see kids of the same age rummage through garbage and thank God when they found something. There is something really wrong in this. We must go back to values that afford life more humane conditions,” he said.

It will be the second time the priest would return to Payao since his release from 39 days of captivity from suspected renegade members of the rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Bossi returned to the town in July 25 last year in a farewell to hundreds of villagers who gathered to welcome him.

Bossi’s reunion with the locals was emotional. Many were in tears when they saw the priest stepped out of his vehicle. He was frail, but smiled and waved to the crowds that surrounded his convoy.

They embraced Bossi and led him to his parish where more people were gathered and clapped their hands when they saw the 57-year old priest. It was the first time the priest returned to Payao town since he was freed by kidnappers July 19, 2007.

Philippine authorities said Bossi was kidnapped while celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan by brothers Akiddin and Wanning Abdusallam. Government officials said there was no ransom paid for Bossi’s freedom, but the kidnappers had demanded P50 million for his safe release.

Army Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said they will have to talk to Bossi when he returns to Payao to convince him to return to defer his missionary works.

“I will suggest to Father Bossi to defer his plan or missionary works until we are sure that he will be safe in Payao when he returns. The kidnappers are still at large, although police filed criminal charges against them, and we are concerned about his safety,” Pajarito told the regional Mindanao Examiner newspaper on Wednesday.

Bossi has previously told the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that he had forgiven his captors and does not harbor ill will for them. “In spite of everything they are still my brothers,” he said.

“At night I pray for them. And if they kidnap me again, I would still pray for them, as there’s no bitterness in my heart whatsoever,” Bossi said. “When we pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ we are all his sons and we are all brothers and sisters.”

“Being a parish priest is comparable with a head of a family who ought to be with his children,” he said.Bossi was the third Italian priest kidnapped in southern Philippines the past 9 years.

Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Fr Luciano Benedetti, 62, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 51-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 24 2007

Freed Italian Catholic Clergy Returns To His Parish In South RP




Editorial cartoon by Mauro Biani. (http://maurobiani.splinder.com) Papal Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest, the Rev. Giancarlo Bossi, in the southern Philippine town of Payao. Hundreds of Filipinos, Muslims and Christians, gather in the town to welcome the return of the 57-year old clergy on Wednesday July 25, 2007. (Mindanao Examiner/PIME Philippines Photos)
ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Jul) – Freed Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi returned Wednesday to his parish in the remote town of Payao in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga Sibugay, where hundreds of supporters have gathered to welcome him.It was also in Payao town where he was kidnapped by Moro rebels on June 10.Bossi’s reunion with the locals was emotional. Many were in tears when they saw the priest stepped out of his vehicle. He was frail, but smiled and waved to the crowds that surrounded his convoy.They embraced Bossi and led him to his parish where more people were gathered and clapped their hands when they saw the 57-year old priest. It was the first time the priest returned to Payao town since he was freed by kidnappers on July 19.Philippine authorities said Bossi was after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led by brothers Akiddin and Wanning Abdusallam.Government officials said there was no ransom paid for Bossi’s freedom, but the kidnappers had demanded P50 million for his safe release.Army Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said troops were hunting down the kidnappers. “Our forces are hunting down the kidnappers of Father Bossi and we will get sooner or later,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Pajarito said he would meet with the priest on Thursday in Payao town for a thanksgiving mass.

Bossi has told the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that he forgives his captors and does not harbor ill will for them. “In spite of everything they are still my brothers,” he said.

“At night I pray for them. And if they kidnap me again, I would still pray for them, as there’s no bitterness in my heart whatsoever,” Bossi said. “When we pray the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ we are all his sons and we are all brothers and sisters.”

Bossi said he longs to return to Payao “to be with my people whom I love.”

“Being a parish priest is comparable with a head of a family who ought to be with his children,” he said.

Bossi said he has plans to return to Italy next month to visit his family. “I will also personally thank friends and the Italians who prayed and held rallies for my rescue,” he said.

Provincial police filed charges last week against Bossi’s kidnappers. Bossi was the third Italian priest kidnapped in southern Philippines the past 9 years.

Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Fr Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 22 2007

More Troops Sent To Southern RP Island To Hunt Executioners Of Marines

BASILAN (Mindanao Examiner / 22 Jul) – More troops arrived Sunday in the southern Filipino island of Basilan, as the military prepares for a major offensive against Moro rebels behind the beheading of ten marine soldiers.

The soldiers were among the 14 slaughtered in the town of Al-Barka on July 10 while searching for a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was freed by rogue MILF members in Lanao del Norte province July 19.

Marine Col. Ramiro Alivio, the commander of military forces in Basilan island, said hundreds of troops, including dozens of elite Presidential guards, have arrived to join the hunt for the rebels.

“We are ready for the punitive action,” Ramiro said.

He did not say when the offensive would start, but the military ultimatum for the MILF to surrender those behind the killings ended Sunday.

The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, has repeatedly said it will not yield any of its members, saying, the soldiers entered a rebel stronghold that triggered the day-long clashes.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said any attack on MILF forces in Basilan could spark an all-out war and may hurt the negotiations with the government to end more than three decades of bloody fighting in the southern region of Mindanao.

“Our forces are ready to repulse any attack by the Philippine military. We are also ready and prepared,” Iqbal said. “Our fighters in Basilan will now invoke our right to self-defense, which is a God-given to anyone who is attacked right in his homes.”

A senior MILF leader Abdurahman Macapaar, commander of the 2nd Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, warned that any attack against the rebel group, could escalate and spark fighting in other areas.

Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon insisted the rebels were behind the beheading of the soldiers.

Sattar Alih, head of the MILF cease-fire monitoring team in Basilan island, said rebel forces withdrew from the battle scene, leaving the bodies of soldiers behind, after military and rebels agreed to a cease-fire.

It was unknown who were behind the decapitation, but intelligence sources in Basilan have implicated unnamed politicians who allegedly supplied the Abu Sayyaf and with mortar rockets, weapons and munitions during the fighting.

Their private armies also fought against the military forces side-by-side with the MILF and that two gunmen had died in the skirmishes. The gunmen were believed behind the mutilation of the slain soldiers.

Alivio said they were investigating reports that private armies of politicians, some of them members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, joined forces with the MILF in attacking the soldiers.

Jul 20 2007

Philippine Leader Meets With Freed Italian Catholic Clergy








In this photo released by the Philippine National Police, shown is kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi, left, in Lanao del Norte province on his way to Zamboanga City shortly after his release in the volatile southern region Friday July 20, 2007. Bossi, who was held hostage for over a month in the southern Philippines, said he lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilos) on a meager diet during his ordeal but was not threatened by his Muslim rebel captors. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/PNP Recom 9 HO)

Freed Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi is escorted by Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno during a news conference Friday July 20, 2007 at a police base in southern Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 20 Jul) – Philippine leader Gloria met Friday with freed Italian Catholic clergy after he was flown to Manila from the volatile region of Mindanao.

Arroyo spoke with Fr Giancarlo Bossi in a private room in Malacanang Palace. After the closed door meeting, Bossi said the President had congratulated him on his courage during his lengthy ordeal.

“We rejoice over the safe release of Father Bossi. We thank our soldiers, police and concerned civilians who valiantly worked for his freedom. Father Bossi is now in good hands. We pray that he could soon gather his strength and recover from his ordeal,” Arroyo said in a statement.

Bossi, kidnapped June 10 in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was released by rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels late Thursday and fetched by senior police officials in Karomatan town in Lanao del Norte province.

The 57-year old clergy from Milan said Arroyo explained that people had been working hard to secure his release. “She told me that many people had been working hard for my freedom,” Bossi said, adding, he was also told that 14 marine soldiers had been killed while they were searching for him on Basilan island last week.

Bossi had cried every time reporters asked him about his feeling on the death of the marine soldiers, ten of them beheaded.

Regional police chief Jaime Caringal brought the priest to Zamboanga City after they fetched him in Lanao del Norte. “He was released after negotiations,” he told reporters in Zamboanga City.

Bossi was barefoot and dirty when he arrived at a tightly guarded police camp.

The priest was frail and looked haggard. Police escorts said Bossi took a bread while in the car on their way to Zamboanga City and was hungry. In Zamboanga City, he was ate a bowl of noodles.

Bossi was later examined by a doctor and then phoned his family in Italy to say that had been freed. He said he was fed with salt and rice and sometimes with dried fish during his 39 days in captivity.

He said passed the time by praying and thinking about his parish and family and friends. Bossi said he was not hurt by his captors. “I never had the sensation that they wanted to kill me, nor did I ever receive a death threat or violence of any kind,” he said.

”Only the food wasn’t great: rice, salt and dried fish. As a result I lost some weight. But I also stopped smoking; I haven’t touched a cigarette since June 27.”Bossi, from the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions, said he wanted to return to his parish in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay to be reunited with the locals, instead of going home to Milan.“I want to go back to Payao and help the people there,” he said. “I have already talked to my family. I told them I would not go back to Italy. I want to stay here for a while.”Philippine Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who fetched Bossi in Zamboanga City, said no ransom was paid in exchange for the safe release of the priest. “There was absolutely no ransom paid for his release,” Puno said.He said a former town mayor of Basilan, Hajarun Jamiri, helped in the negotiations that led to Bossi’s release.Bossi said the kidnappers demanded P50 million for his release.Pope Benedict XVI received the news of Bossi’s release with great joy, said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Last week, the Pope said that he was praying daily for Bossi, and Italy sent a a special envoy Margherita Boniver to Zamboanga City to try to work for his release.

On Tuesday, the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions said it had established contacts and negotiating with Bossi’s kidnappers.

“We are waiting for positive developments,” a PIME missionary in Zamboanga City and himself former kidnap victim Fr Luciano Benedetti said. “These days we have felt the sympathy of so many people and this bodes well that it might be persuasive and lead to Father Bossi’s release.”

Bossi was the third Italian priest kidnapped since 1998 in southern Philippines.

Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

Benedetti now has been following developments in the Bossi kidnapping case closely from the start, from the regional house of PIME in Zamboanga City.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

Jul 19 2007

Two Marine Officers Sacked Over Basilan Clash

BASILAN (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jul) – The Philippine military on Thursday sacked two marine commanders who led troops in a fierce firefight with Moro rebels in the southern island of Basilan.

Fourteen soldiers were killed in fighting; ten of them beheaded, in the town of Al-Barka, a known stronghold of Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

Navy spokesman, Commander Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, said the two — Lt. Col. Felix Almadrones, commander of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 and operations officer Maj. Nestor Marcelino – will also face an investigation into the fighting.

”They have been relieved because of command responsibility and in order for them to shed light in the ongoing investigation,” Bacordo said.

The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, said the soldiers entered a rebel stronghold without coordination, sparking day-long clashes, a charge strongly denied by the island’s military chief, Marines Col. Ramiro Alivio.

Alivio said the soldiers were searching for a kidnapped Italian Catholic clergy Giancarlo Bossi, kidnapped June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province in Mindanao, in Al-Barka town when rebels, aided by the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda attacked the troops.

Bacordo said Lt. Col. Elmer Estilles replaced Almadrones and that Maj. Adolfo Avarate was named new operations chief of the local marine force.

Many marine soldiers on the island were disgruntled by the decision, but could do nothing.

Sattar Alih, head of the MILF cease-fire monitoring team in Basilan island, said rebel forces withdrew from the battle scene, leaving the bodies of soldiers behind, after military and rebels agreed to a cease-fire.

It was unknown who were behind the decapitation, but intelligence sources in Basilan have implicated unnamed politicians who allegedly supplied the Abu Sayyaf and with mortar rockets, weapons and munitions during the fighting.

Their private armies also fought against the military forces side-by-side with the MILF and that two gunmen had died in the skirmishes. The military is now investigating the reports. (With a report from Juley Reyes)

Jul 18 2007

Muslim Missionary Decapitated In Southern Philippine Island





A hearse carrying the bodies of two marine soldiers killed by Abu Sayyaf militants tied to al-Qaeda terror network in Jolo island passes. Troops are pursuing Abu Sayyaf leaders and two Jemaah Islamiya Bali bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek in Jolo island, about 950 kms south of Manila. And Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon answers questions from reporters inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City also on Wednesday. Gen. Esperon on Wednesday orders more troops in Basilan island to pursue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels behind the killing of 14 marines soldiers, ten of them beheaded, in an attack last week. Gen. Cedo has given a one week ultimatum for the MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, to surrender the rebels behind the killing. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jul) – A Muslim missionary, who provided information to the Philippine military about terrorists, was found dead and mutilated in the southern island of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said the preacher’s body was chopped into several pieces when found by civilians inside a sack in the village of Balagtasan in Lamitan town.

“We condemn the killing and authorities are now hunting the culprits behind the gruesome murder of the Tabliq,” Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Ramiro said the victim had provided information to the military about the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and lawless elements in Basilan.

“Villagers, including the tabliq, are helping us and providing intelligence about terrorists and lawless groups in Basilan,” he said without further elaborating.

Last week, Abu Sayyaf militants also killed a Muslim preacher in Basilan’s Al-Barka town on suspicion he was passing information to military authorities about a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi.

But the MILF said the soldiers were behind the killing of the preacher, an accusation strongly denied by the military, saying, the Muslim tipped off soldiers about Bossi’s location in Al-Barka town.

Bossi, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was earlier reported being held by the Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Al-Barka town.

It was also in the town where MILF rebels attacked and killed 14 marine soldiers searching for the 57-year old clergy from Milan. Ten of those killed were beheaded.

Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday said they have given the MILF one week to surrender those responsible in the killing of the soldiers.

Esperon he ordered troops to pursue the culprits if the MILF fails to yield those behind the beheading. “This is not a time for revenge, but a time to punish those responsible in the barbaric act,” he said.

The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said it will not surrender any of its fighters.

Mohager Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, said his group will not surrender any of its fighters. “The fighting between government soldiers and MILF forces in Basilan was a legitimate encounter. We will not surrender any of our fighters. We will not give in to the demands of the Philippine government. We are ready to defend our selves and that is our right,” he said.

Iqbal said the military already violated the cease-fire when soldiers went inside MILF stronghold in Al-Barka town.

Sattar Alih, head of the MILF cease-fire monitoring team in Basilan island, said rebel forces withdrew from the battle scene, leaving the bodies of soldiers behind, after military and rebels agreed to a cease-fire.

It was unknown who were behind the decapitation, but intelligence sources in Basilan have implicated unnamed politicians who allegedly supplied the Abu Sayyaf and with mortar rockets, weapons and munitions during the fighting.

Their private armies also fought against the military forces side-by-side with the MILF and that two gunmen had died in the skirmishes. The military is now investigating the reports.

Peace talks were stalled since last year after MILF, which is fighting for a separate Muslim homeland, rejected a government proposal for a limited autonomy.

Esperon said: “We are determined to punish those who perpetrated these inhuman and barbaric acts. These are not in the ambit of the peace process anymore. And offensive operation is the last option here.”

Philippine authorities tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as mastermind in Bossi’s kidnapping.

Abdusallam was also implicated in many kidnappings-for-ransom in the South.

But the MILF said Abdusallam was kicked out long time ago because of his criminal past and has joined the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Esperon, who was in Zamboanga City, held a conference with senior military and police commanders inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters.

He said hundreds of soldiers are on their way in Basilan to help in the hunt for terrorists and search for Bossi. “We have reports that Father Bossi is in Basilan and there will be no let-up in the operation in recovering Father Bossi and we assure you that,” he said.

Early this month, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent through cell phone to his friend, Spanish priest Angel Calvo, in Zamboanga City. The military said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos. (With a report from Juan Magtanggol)

Jul 17 2007

RP Military Yields Voice Clip Of Kidnapped Italian Clergy

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Jul) – The Philippine military has sent a compact disc containing the recorded voice of kidnapped Italian Catholic missionary to the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Zamboanga City.The PIME said the voice could belong to the 57-year old priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao outside Zamboanga City, said fellow Italian priest Luciano Benedetti.Benedetti told the Union of Catholic Asian News that he listened to the recording and it sounded like Bossi’s voice. He said military officials refrained from saying how they got a copy of the 20-second voice clip.He did not give details about the content of the compact disc, except that the voice was recorded on July 2. “PIME priests do not give much credit to this voice recording and would prefer to receive photos of Father Bossi as proof of life,” he said.Benedetti said Italian missioners would like to hear more reports on progress of military search operations for Bossi.

He said the military has become silent about the search after 14 marines were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels on July 10 in Basilan province. The soldiers, ten of them beheaded, were attacked while searching for Bossi in Al-Barka town where MILF rebels were said to be holding the priest. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 17 2007

Negotiations Begin For Release Of Kidnapped Italian Priest In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Jul) – The Papal Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) said it has established contacts with the kidnappers holding an Italian Catholic priest hostage in the southern Philippines.It said negotiations for the safe release of Father Giancarlo Bossi, from Milan, is going on. The clergy was kidnapped after celebrating mass on June 10 in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.The Catholic news agency AsiaNews said mediation for Bossi’s release still continues and that contacts are ongoing, but reported that PIME missionaries in the Philippines are cautiously optimistic.“We are waiting for positive developments,” a PIME missionary in Zamboanga City and former hostage Father Luciano Benedetti told,” said, adding, many people were trying to help to secure the freedom of the 57-year old missioner.“These days we have felt the sympathy of so many people and this bodes well that it might be persuasive and lead to Father Bossi’s release,” Benedetti said.Philippine authorities tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is negotiating peace with the government. Abdusallam was also implicated in many kidnappings-for-ransom in the South.But the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, said Abdusallam was kicked out long time ago because of his criminal past and has joined the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped since 1998 in the southern Philippines.Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.Benedetti now has been following developments in the Bossi kidnapping case closely from the start, from the regional house of PIME in Zamboanga City.In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers.“The faithful are still calling on the Lord to free him, hoping that his kidnappers and those trying to exploit the event for political and ideological purposes might heed their words,” PIME said.The MILF which previously offered to help rescue Bossi said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom. Other reports said Bossi’s captors have asked one million dollars in exchange for his freedom.The military said Bossi is believed to be in Basilan island, where 14 soldiers searching for the priest were attacked and killed by Abu Sayyaf militants and MILF gunmen on July 10. Ten of those of killed were beheaded and mutilated, it said.

The MILF said there were no Abu Sayyaf militants involved in the fighting triggered by the intrusion of soldiers inside a rebel stronghold. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 11 2007

Top Sayyaf Leader, Son Wounded In Clash In Southern Philippines





Philippine troops load onto a truck on Wednesday July 11, 2007 the bodies of Philippine Marines who were killed Tuesday in a clash with Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Muslim insurgents while searching for a kidnapped Italian priest at the volatile island province of Basilan in southern Philippines. Troops recovered the bodies of 14 marines, ten of them mutilated, in one of the bloodiest fights this year, which erupted on Al-Barka town. Basilan island military chief Marines Col. Ramiro Alivio said some 500 militants ambushed the heavily outnumbered soldiers. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 11 Jul) – Philippine soldiers have wounded a senior leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and his son in fierce clashes in Basilan island that left dozens of soldiers and militants dead and wounded.

Marines Col. Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief, told the Mindanao Examiner that troops shot Isnilon Hapilon and one his son in Tuesday fighting in the town of Al-Barka, where Abu Sayyaf militants, backed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, killed 14 government soldiers and wounded nine others.

Isnilon is on the terror lists of the Philippines and United States and was implicated in the kidnappings of U.S. citizens and foreigners in the restive South.

Military spokesmen in Manila said ten of the soldiers were decapitated. The bodies were brought to a military base in Zamboanga City, where it would be given honors, said Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command.

“Lt. Gen. (Eugenio) Cedo wants a full military honor for the fallen soldiers,” Batara said in a separate interview late Wednesday.Batara was referring to Cedo, who is the chief of the Western Mindanao Command.

Alivio said troops were tracking down Hapilon in the jungle of Basilan, where a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi is believed being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf and MILF forces.

“We have intelligence reports that said Isnilon Hapilon and his son are wounded in the fighting.

Troops are tracking him down,” Alivio said.The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said the fighting broke out after government forces sneaked inside a known rebel territory.

Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, said marine soldiers encroached inside their stronghold, sparking daylong clashes that left as many as 20 government troops dead. Four MILF fighters were also killed and four more wounded, he said.

Alivio said at least 30 Abu Sayyaf and MILF gunmen were killed in the clashes. “It is a conservative estimate, but villagers and intelligence reports said there could be more enemy casualties.”

He said the soldiers were checking reports that the clergy, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was sighted in the town. “Troops were verifying reports that Father Bossi was spotted in the area, but it turned out negative. Our forces were returning to base when they came under fire and fighting broke out,” Alivio said, adding, troops fought about 500 gunmen.

Alivio said the search for Bossi is ongoing. “We have persistent reports that Bossi is being held in Al-Barka town and the MILF is preventing us from searching the priest,” he said.

Iqbal said the fighting was between the MILF and government troops. He accused the military of violating a six-year old fragile cease-fire accord and said the MILF would file a protest with the government peace panel about the encroachment of the soldiers.

He said rebel forces destroyed two M35 military trucks and captured another during the fighting. He said MILF fighters have also recovered five M60 machine guns, one sub-machine gun, five M-203 automatic rifles, two M-14 rifles with sniper scopes, one night vision goggle and two radio transceivers.

Alivio said the MILF has no territory in Basilan. “As far as we are concerned, there is only one authority and one government in Basilan and that is the Republic of the Philippines, not the MILF,” he said.

Acting Filipino Defense chief Norberto Gonzales has told Margherita Boniver, special envoy of the Italian government, that the 57-year old priest from Milan is being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.

But Boniver, who visited the Philippines, last week doubted the report and so was the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere to which Bossi belongs. “There are other theories about the kidnappers, for example, the head of the army mentioned former members of the Islamic Liberation Front,” Boniver said.

Philippine military and police authorities in Zamboanga Sibugay have tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue MILF leader as mastermind in the kidnapping. The MILF said Abdusallam has been kicked out of the MILF long time ago because of his criminal past and has joined the Abu Sayyaf group.

The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate homeland, has denied involvement in the kidnapping, but a rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said Bossi’s captors were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom.

Last week, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent through cell phone to his friend Spanish priest Angel Calvo in Zamboanga City. The military said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 10 2007

MILF, Not Sayyaf Clashed With Troops In Southern Philippines, Rebel Leader Says

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jul) – Philippine Muslim rebels engaged in peace talks with the government clashed Tuesday with security forces in Basilan island, south of Manila.Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, said marine soldiers encroached inside their stronghold on a remote town and attacked rebel forces, sparking daylong clashes that left as many as 20 government troops dead.Four MILF fighters were also killed and four more wounded, he said.The Philippine Marines said only 3 soldiers were killed and 13 others injured in the fighting.Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief, also denied that 20 soldiers were killed. “It was not true,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.Alivio earlier said that troops, searching for the kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi, clashed with members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group aided by MILF rebels in the hinterland village of Ginanta in Al-Barka town.He said the soldiers were checking reports that the clergy, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was sighted in the town. The report turned out to be false.“Troops were verifying reports that Father Bossi was spotted in the area, but it turned out negative. Our forces were returning to base when they came under fire and fighting broke out,” Alivio said, adding, troops fought about 500 gunmen.Iqbal said the fighting was between the MILF and government troops.He said rebel forces destroyed two M35 military trucks and captured another during the fighting. He said MILF fighters have also recovered five M60 machine guns, one sub-machine gun, five M-203 automatic rifles, two M-14 rifles with sniper scopes, one night vision goggle and two radio transceivers.Acting Filipino Defense chief Norberto Gonzales has told Margherita Boniver, special envoy of the Italian government, that the 57-year old priest from Milan is being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.But Boniver, who visited the Philippines, last week doubted the report and so was the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere to which Bossi belongs. “There are other theories about the kidnappers, for example, the head of the army mentioned former members of the Islamic Liberation Front,” Boniver said.Philippine military and police authorities in Zamboanga Sibugay have tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue MILF leader as mastermind in the kidnapping. The MILF said Abdusallam has been kicked out of the MILF long time ago because of his criminal past and has joined the Abu Sayyaf group.The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate homeland, has denied involvement in the kidnapping, but a rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said Bossi’s captors were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom.Last week, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent through cell phone to his friend Spanish priest Angel Calvo in Zamboanga City.The military said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos.Philippine authorities were investigating the authenticity of the photos, all showing Bossi sitting on a boulder surrounded by young trees. One photograph showed Bossi holding a transistor radio.PIME said it has no contact with the kidnappers. Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped in the past year in the southern Philippines.Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Father Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers.

Benedetti now has been following developments in the Bossi kidnapping case closely from the start, from the regional house of PIME in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 10 2007

RP Troops Searching For Kidnapped Italian Missioner Clash With Abu Sayyaf, MILF

BASILAN ISLAND(Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jul) – Philippine troops tracking down a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest clashed Tuesday with hundreds of suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the southern island of Basilan, officials said.One soldier was killed and two more were injured in the fighting that erupted at around 10 a.m. in the town of Al-Barka, said Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief.He said the soldiers were checking reports that Father Giancarlo Bossi, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was sighted in the town. The report turned out to be false.“Troops were verifying reports that Father Bossi was spotted in the area, but it turned out negative. Our forces were returning to base when they came under fire and fighting broke out,” Alivio told the Mindanao Examiner.He said as the fighting raged, the number of gunmen was also swelling until it reached 500.Military intelligence sources in Basilan said as many as 7 militants were killed and wounded in the fighting, but there could be more casualties as battle continued well into the night.It said MILF forces in Basilan have sided with the Abu Sayyaf group and fought against government troops.Acting Filipino Defense chief Norberto Gonzales has told Margherita Boniver, special envoy of the Italian government, that the 57-year old priest from Milan is being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.Boniver, who was in the Philippines last week, expressed caution about Abu Sayyaf.“There are other theories about the kidnappers, for example, the head of the army mentioned former members of the Islamic Liberation Front,” she said.Bossi’s group, the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere, doubted the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda terror network is holding the priest.Philippine military and police officials have tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as mastermind in the kidnapping.The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group has denied involvement in the kidnapping, but said Bossi’s captors were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom.Last week, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent through cell phone to his friend Spanish priest Angel Calvo in Zamboanga City.Military sources said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos.Philippine authorities were investigating the authenticity of the photos, all showing Bossi sitting on a boulder surrounded by young trees. One photograph showed Bossi holding a transistor radio.PIME said it has no contact with the kidnappers. Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped in the past year in the southern Philippines.Rogue MILF rebels kidnapped Father Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.In 2001, renegade MILF rebels and members of the bandit group called Pentagon Gang also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers.

Benedetti now has been following developments in the Bossi kidnapping case closely from the start, from the regional house of PIME in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 09 2007

Doubts Cast On Philippine Reports About Bossi Kidnapping

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 09 Jul) – The Papal Institute for Foreign Missions doubted government reports that the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group is holding its priest Giancarlo Bossi in the southern Philippines.Bossi was kidnapped June 10 in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay.Acting Filipino Defense chief Norberto Gonzales has told Margherita Boniver, special envoy of the Italian government, that the 57-year old priest from Milan is being held by Abu Sayyaf militants.Philippine military and police officials have tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as mastermind in the kidnapping.The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group has denied involvement in the kidnapping, but said Bossi’s captors were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom.“The theory that Abu Sayyaf [“sword bearers” in the local language, referring to a radical group inspired by Al-Qaeda based in the southern Philippines] is behind the abduction of Fr Giancarlo Bossi does not hold water.”“Rather, from what we know, he is being held hostage by a gang of criminals,” Fr Luciano Benedetti was quoted by PIME’s AsiaNews as saying.Benedetti has been following developments in the kidnapping case closely from the start from the regional house of PIME in Zamboanga.Boniver, who was in the Philippines last week, also expressed caution about Abu Sayyaf. “There are other theories about the kidnappers, for example, the head of the army mentioned former members of the Islamic Liberation Front,” she told AsiaNews.In fact, the kidnapping of the missionary of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) has taken place at a politically sensitive time for Manila.Experts on the Philippines have told AsiaNews that “bringing in the Islamic extremists of Abu Sayyaf could mean many things, and it is not a foregone conclusion that they have anything to do with the kidnapping of the Italian priest”.“In the first place, the entry into force of a new anti-terrorism law is anxiously awaited in the country. It is scheduled for 15 July and will give the army practically unlimited powers.Indicating Islamic extremists as the instigators of the kidnapping will pave the way for the government to order a military blitz that would very dangerous for the safety of the hostage’s life.”“What’s more, if the government theory is credited, it would be fair to expect more participation in the searches by the United States, which in the meantime could guarantee substantial funding which Manila needs,” it said in a report published Monday.The AsiaNews reported: “There are gaping inconsistencies in the entire affair: if no one has yet made real contact with the kidnappers, then there is no basis to establish their identity. It should be considered that, as in all cases of abduction which take place in the Philippines, there have been many requests for money in exchange for information, a practice that Abu Sayyaf does not allow when it is really at work, because it would not want to diminish its action.”And finally, “the area of Payao, where Fr Bossi was kidnapped, is not a zone of action of the Islamic radicals. If one speaks about former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, this must mean common bandits in search of money, and not still more determined extremists,” it said.

Benedetti was kidnapped in 1998 by rogue MILF rebels in Zamboanga del Norte province and freed ten weeks later after government negotiators paid huge ransom to his captors. (AsiaNews)

Jul 06 2007

Italian Lawmaker Arrives In Southern RP To Work For Release Of Kidnapped Priest






Italian lawmaker Margherita Boniver, accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Manila, Rubens Fedele, arrives in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga Friday July 06, 2007. Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat and Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco met Bonevir who is in the Philippines to work with Filipino authorities for the safe release of a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi. Muslim rebels seized the 57-year old missioner from Milan last month in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Bossi is a priest from the Rome-based Papal Institute for Foreign Missions. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 06 Jul) – Italian lawmaker Margherita Boniver arrived in the southern Philippines late Friday to work with local authorities for the safe release of a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest.The lawmaker, accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Manila, Rubens Fedele, arrived in a private jet. They were met by Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat and Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco.She briefly spoke to reporters and later met with top security officials. She will fly to Zamboanga Sibugay province on Saturday to meet with senior military and police officials to discuss the progress of search for Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Rome-based Papal Institute for Foreign Missions.Boniver said she met with President Gloria Arroyo in Manila and senior military officials and assured her that the search for Bossi is going on. “I am really thankful to President Arroyo for all the efforts,” she said.Bossi was kidnapped June 10 by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Akiddin Abdusallam after saying mass on the coastal village of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay.The kidnappers have not contacted the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions, but the MILF claimed the gang has been demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.Philippine authorities said it will not pay ransom to the kidnappers. Some 2,000 troops are searching for Bossi in the jungle of Zamboanga Sibugay.But despite the huge number of soldiers helping in the search, the military said it has no reports about the fate of the priest.

“The search is still going, but we have no reports about the fate of Father Bossi,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a regioanal military spokesman, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 05 2007

No Traces Of Kidnapped Italian Priest In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 05 Jul) – Philippine troops have failed to locate an Italian Catholic priest, three weeks after rebels kidnapped him from a remote village in Zamboanga Sibugay province, south of Manila.

Father Giancarolo Bossi, of the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions, was kidnapped by rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal village of Payao. The kidnappers reportedly demanded “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom, according to the MILF.

On Wednesday, Italian lawmaker Margherita Boniver arrived in Manila to work with the Filipino government for the safe release of Bossi, 57.

The Milan-born priest is suffering from hypertension, his congregation said.Security officials have previously said that troops had surrounded the hideout of the kidnappers and that his rescue is imminent, but this proved wrong.

Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said assured that security forces were tracking down Bossi.

«I must assure each and everyone that the AFP in the area, together with the PNP [Philippine National Police], are not letting up on the operations,» he told reporters in Manila.

Bossi’s congregation said it has not received any proof that the priest is alive.

«All indications would tell us that Father Bossi is alive. Proof of life would be something higher, meaning a picture or a voice tape, but it’s more of [an] indication, what we have right now,» Esperon said.

More than 2,000 soldiers have joined the search for Bossi. The United States also deployed an EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane to help the Philippine troops.

Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped in Mindanao since 1998. MILF rebels also kidnapped an Italian priest, Luciano Benedetti, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998. Benedetti, 52, was held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. (Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

Jul 02 2007

MILF Pulls Out From Mission To Free Kidnapped Italian Priest In Southern Philippines

MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 03 Jul) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels helping in the search for a kidnapped Italian Catholic missionary in the southern Philippines have pulled out from the rescue mission.The pullout, it said, would allow government forces to operate on its own in an effort to get back Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). Bossi, 57, was kidnapped June 10 by rogue MILF rebels after celebrating mass in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where it is actively operating.“It is now the sole responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to do the job alone,” said Mohammad Nasif, leader of MILF forces, helping in the rescue of Bossi.The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, has previously helped in rescuing many Filipino and foreign kidnapped victims in the restive region of Mindanao.Nasif said rebel forces can rapidly respond should the Philippine military request the MILF to take part again in the rescue mission.The MILF said it pulled out some 1,000 rebels from the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte where government troops are searching for the priest.The PIME said it has no information about the fate of Bossi, a native of Milan, and whether he is alive or not.“This day PIME-Regional House in Zamboanga hasn’t received a single “proof of life” from the abductors of Father Giancarlo Bossi,” it said.Philippine military chief, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, said the missioner is still alive, but his health could be deteriorating.Bossi’s family in Italy said the priest is suffering from hypertension and that he needs medication. “We have indications of life, but we do not want to discuss the details because it could give away the location and by giving away the location it could also give the identities of the people working on it in the end it might jeopardize the safety of Father Bossi,” Esperon said.Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped in Mindanao since 1998. MILF rebels also kidnapped an Italian priest, Luciano Benedetti, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998. Benedetti, 52, was held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.In 2001, renegade MILF rebels also snatched Father Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. His companions claimed he suffered from Stockholm syndrome, a phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to his captor. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 02 2007

Kidnapped Italian Priest Is Alive In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 02 Jul) – The Philippine military on Monday said a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest is still alive, but his health could be deteriorating by this time — three weeks after he was seized by rebels on the volatile region of Mindanao.Military chief Gen. Hemogenes Esperon said they have reports that Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Papal Institute for Foreign Missions, is alive and being held by rouge members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.“We have indications of life, but we do not want to discuss the details because it could give away the location and by giving away the location it could also give the identities of the people working on it in the end it might jeopardize the safety of Father Bossi,” Esperon said.The 57-year old Bossi, from Milan, was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.Esperon said the safety of Bossi is important and that an armed rescue would endanger his life. ”Anybody who is a captive would be in danger and things could happen at anytime, so we want to be very careful about it,” he said.The MILF, which denied any involvement in the kidnapping of Bossi, is also helping authorities search for the priest. It said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.But Bossi’s group said it has neither received any demands nor does it know who the kidnappers are.“Since the beginnings the Italian government has gone into action in the Philippines through its ambassador and in Italy through the Foreign Ministry’s crisis unit to provide PIME with all the necessary support.”

“Indeed tomorrow a delegation from the crisis unit will arrive in Mindanao to work with local political and Church authorities as well as PIME missionaries. For this reason to view the event as a conflict between Christians and Muslims is for the time being unjustified,” said Fr Gian Battista Zanchi, PIME Superior General. (Juley Reyes and Joseph Danda)

Jun 29 2007

RP Military Holds Info On Kidnapped Italian Priest

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Jun) – The Philippine military on Friday said it has new information about a kidnapped Italian Roman Catholic priest in the troubled South, a spokesman said.Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro would not give details about Giancarlo Bossi, of the Papal Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), saying it could jeopardize the ongoing operation to free the 57-year old priest.Bossi was seized June 10 in the coastal village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town by rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is fighting for a separate homeland in Mindanao.»There are positive developments,” he said without elaborating.The MILF denied any involvement in the kidnapping and is helping in the search for Bossi. Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.The military previously said that troops have tracked down and surrounded the lair of the kidnappers in Zamboanga Sibugay only to say again that the priest has been taken to Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region.Italian priests in the Philippines have expressed concern about Bossi and asked authorities to locate the priest.“We were told that both the government forces and the MILF contacts have been monitoring all possible areas, all possible armed groups, and all possible witnesses, even the most secret hideouts, using the latest high-tech devices.”“We were told that emissaries were sent with cell phones to verify if he is alive, we were told that medicines had been provided for his hypertension, we were told he is well alive riding a horse. We were told that the kidnappers are asking for 15 million pesos. But when we tried to verify all these reports we have come to the conclusion that they are all false reports,” the PIME said in a statement Friday.PIME said until now the Philippine authorities have provided no proof that Bossi is still alive. And that the kidnappers have not contacted them.“So far there is no proof of life, no clear identification of the kidnappers, no confirmed sighting, no demand for ransom, no declaration of purpose for this sudden abduction.”

“We know that Giancarlo cannot disappear like a ghost. He is too big and must be difficult to hide him. We are very worried about him,” PIME said. (Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

Jun 27 2007

No Clues Yet On Kidnapped Italian Catholic Priest In Southern Philippines

An undated PIME photo of kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Jun) – Confusion and misinformation continue to make it more difficult for Philippine authorities to track down a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the restive and poverty-stricken region of Mindanao.

Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME), remains in captivity since June 10 after rebels seized the 57-year old missioner from Milan in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is helping Filipino authorities in the search for Bossi, said kidnappers demanded “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.

Another rebel leader Mohagher Iqbal said Bossi’s captors were asking only P15 million.

The MILF is negotiating peace with the Philippine government, but police and military tagged one of its commanders, Akiddin Abdusallam, as the leader of the gang which is holding Bossi.

And Marine Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, head of the government ad hoc joint action group, which is in-charge of the negotiation for Bossi’s freedom, said the kidnappers have not until now demanded any ransom.

And PIME priests in the Philippines are longing for information about whether Bossi is still alive or not. And with no fresh news about an early release, the agony continues for Bossi’s family and relatives in Italy.

Unconfirmed news reports aired by radio stations and televisions added to the confusion over Bossi’s whereabouts.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional army commander, said Bossi could still be in Zamboanga Sibugay contrary to reports that kidnappers have sneaked the priest in the province of Lanao del Norte in the Muslim autonomous region.

“We believed Father Bossi is still in Zamboanga,” Cedo said without further elaborating.

But Dolorfino, who is working closely with MILF forces, said fresh reports suggested that Bossi is being held captive in Lanao del Norte.

“Until now we have no reports about Bossi’s fate and we are waiting for our emissaries to give us something about the priest,” he told the independent newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner, late on Wednesday.

Dolorfino said they have sent three emissaries Tuesday to Lanao del Norte province to get proof that Bossi is alive.

One of the three emissaries, who uses the codename “Sultan”, was a key negotiator in the release of a kidnapped Italian priest Luciano Benedetti in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998. Benedetti, 52, was held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

PIME’s Philippines superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo previously said they have no reports about Bossi. Although a photograph of a man in the middle of a mangrove – whose legs – were only shown on a blog dedicated to Bossi had an M16 rifle pointed to him.

The photo raised suspicions that there is a secret negotiation going on for the safe release of Bossi in exchange for money. But the picture was taken out Wednesday after Philippine media reported about the mysterious photograph believed that of Bossi in the marshland of Zamboanga Sibugay.

The blog now shows two undated close-up photos of Bossi, the third Italian missionary kidnapped in Zamboanga Peninsula the past ten years. It said Bossi’s kidnappers were heading to Lanao del Sur province.

Kidnappings-for-ransom has become a lucrative business for rebels and criminal syndicates in Mindanao, where many areas are underdeveloped and job opportunities are scarce. Sometimes gangs kidnapped civilians and hand them over to rebels in exchange for a cut in the ransom. Poverty has been blamed for many kidnappings in the South.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels also snatched Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur.

The priest was freed after six months in captivity in exchange for an unspecified ransom, but he claimed to have escaped from his kidnappers. His companions claimed he suffered from Stockholm syndrome, a phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to his or her captor. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 25 2007

Boat Used In Transporting Kidnapped Italian Missioner Recovered In Lanao del Norte

Philippine locator by Answers.Com

LANAO DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Jun) – Police forces have stepped up its search for a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the southern Philippines after security forces recovered a destroyed speedboat used by gunmen in spiriting out the foreigner to Lanao del Norte province.

Police said it recovered the parts of the boat believed used in transporting the prelate, Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, from Zamboanga Sibugay province where he was kidnapped June 10 by rebels.

The boat, originally painted blue, was covered in white paint to conceal its true color, police said, adding, parts of the wooden craft had been found on a coastal village near Sultan Naga Dimaporo town.

Philippine Army commanders earlier said the priest is still being held in Zamboanga Sibugay and that soldiers have surrounded the lairs of the kidnappers, headed by Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

The MILF denied involvement in the kidnapping and is helping authorities recover the priest. Rebel forces last week also said it destroyed a boat used in the kidnapping of the priest.

Bossi, 57, is said to be suffering from hypertension and needs his medication, his fellow Italian priests said.

The kidnappers were demanding one million dollars for Bossi’s release. And independent sources said politicians in Lanao del Norte were trying to negotiate for Bossi’s freedom.

But aside from politicians, private negotiators were also trying to seek the release of the prelate.

The Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions has recently put up an Internet diary to keep Italians updated on news about the kidnapped priest from Milan. The diary dedicated to Bossi showed a photo believed that of the kidnapped missioner standing guarded in the middle of a marshland.

The photo raised speculations that there is a secret negotiation going on between the kidnappers, the MILF and the Italian government.

Filipino authorities have provided no information about the priest. Bossi’s superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo, previously said they will not pay ransom.

Sandalo, who is based in Zamboanga City, has traveled to Zamboanga Sibugay a day after Bossi’s kidnapping to monitor the progress of the search.

The Italian Ambassador Rubens Fedele has flown to Zamboanga City and also traveled back and forth to Zamboanga Sibugay trying to get more information about Bossi.

Both Sandalo and Fedele said they have no reports on the whereabouts of the kidnapped priest or anything that will prove Bossi is still alive.

Marine Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, head of the ad hoc joint action group, said the kidnappers wanted to negotiate for the release of the priest, but provided no proof that Bossi is still alive.

«An intermediary has contacted me and said the kidnappers want to negotiate with us for the safe release of the priest, but we need a proof here that Bossi is alive and well,» he told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner. (With a report from Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

Jun 23 2007

Fr Bossi, Wala Pa Rin Balita!

Ang larawan ito ay mula sa blog site ng Pontifical Institute of Foreign Mission sa Pilipinas at sa orihinal na litrato ay nakasaad ang panagalan: Father Giancarlo Bossi. Ito kaya ay si Fr Bossi? Nakalubog pa sa putikan ang kanyang mga paa at isang M16 ang nakatutok sa kaawa-awang lalaking ito na mukhang dayuhan dahil sa maputi at mabalahibong mga binti. Hindi nagsabi ang PIME kung ang litrato ay ipinadala ng mga kidnappers bilang pruweba na buhay pa ang Italyanong pari. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Jun) – Wala pa rin balita ang mga awtoridad sa kinaroroonan ng Italian priest na si Giancarlo Bossi – dalawang linggo matapos itong dukutin ng mga rebeldeng Muslim sa lalawigan ng Zamboanga Sibugay.

Maging ang Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) na kinabibilangan ni Bossi ay abala sa paghahanap sa pari na umano’y nasa grupo ni Akiddin Abdusallla, isang rogue commander ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Itinanggi ng MILF na may kinalaman ito pagdukot kay Bossi at nasa Abu Sayyaf na umano si Abdusallam. Ngunit tumutulong umano ang MILF na mabawi si Bossi.

Ngunit posibleng may sikretong negosasyon ang PIME o kaya ang Italian Embassy sa mga kidnappers at gamit ang MILF upang mapalaya si Bossi.

Ito ay dahil inilagay ng PIME sa isang blog ang litrato ng mga mabalahibong binti ng isang Caucasian na lalaki na nakalubog ang mga paa sa putikan sa gitna ng mangrove marshland at doon nakalagay ito: Father Giancarlo Bossi. Isang M16 automatic rifle rin ang nakatutok sa lalaki.

Hindi ipinakita sa larawan ang mga mukha ng naroon sa hindi malamang dahil.

Naunang sinabi ng Italian Embassy na handa itong makipag-negosasyon sa mga kidnappers na umano’y humiling ng isang milyong dolyar kapalit ni Bossi.

Karamihan sa mga dinukot na dayuhan sa Mindanao ay napapalaya lamang kapalit ang ransom. Bukod kay Bossi ay dinukot na rin noon sina Italian priests Luciano Benedette at Giuseppe Pierantoni na parehong napalaya matapos na iuamno’y magbayad ng malaking ransom ang pamahalaan ng Pilipinas at kanilang embahada.(Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 22 2007

Muslims, Christians Hold Rally, Pray For Safety Of Kidnapped Italian Catholic Missioner In Mindanao



Hundreds of Christians and Muslims hold a solidarity rally Friday, June 22, 2007 in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines to pray for the early release of an Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi kidnapped by rebels in the neighboring province of Zamboanga Sibugay on June 10. The rebels are demanding $1 million dollars for the freedom of the Milan-born missioner. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 22 Jun) – Hundreds of Muslims and Christians in the southern Filipino port city of Zamboanga held a solidarity rally Friday to pray for the quick release of a kidnapped Italian Catholic prelate.Rebels are holding Giancarlo Bossi, 57, since June 10 after they seized the missioner in the coastal village of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province. The rebels demanded one million dollars for the safe release of the Milan-born priest.The rally, organized by the Peace Advocate Zamboanga, drew students and religious people from around Zamboanga City. They held a prayer rally; some of them carried placards and banners appealing for Bossi’s release, at a public square called Plaza Pershing in downtown Zamboanga.Some held bamboo torch and listened to gospel songs and statements read by lay leaders.Filipino authorities have provided no information about the priest, a member of the Rome-based Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). Its superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo, previously said they will not pay ransom.Sandalo, who is based in Zamboanga City, has traveled to Zamboanga Sibugay a day after Bossi’s kidnapping to monitor the progress of the search.The Italian Ambassador Rubens Fedele has flown to Zamboanga City and also traveled back and forth to Zamboanga Sibugay trying to get more information about Bossi.Both Sandalo and Fedele said they have no reports about the whereabouts of the kidnapped priest or anything that will prove Bossi is still alive.But a new PIME web log dedicated to Bossi showed a picture of a man’s legs, his feet stuck in mud in the middle of a mangrove marshland and a barrel of an M16 automatic rifle is also visible on the foreground. PIME did not say whether the man on the photo is Bossi or not, but the priest name is written on it.The photo raised suspicion that PIME or the Italian government has been secretly negotiating with the kidnappers, who are believed rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, is helping authorities in tracking down Bossi. (With a report from Chris Navarra)

Jun 21 2007

Kidnapped Italian Priest In Philippines Dreams Of Tilling Own Land With Poor Farmers

Father Giancarlo Bossi web log

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 22 Jun) – A road leading to a small Catholic church on a remote village in the southern Philippines has been named after him – the man local folks call «buotan».

Buotan is Filipino dialect which means a «good» man. And for Muslim and Christian villagers in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay, the man they refer to is none other than Giancarlo Bossi, an Italian Catholic priest from Milan, who dreamed of owning a piece of land and start to till it together with local farmers.

In that land he would have built his own small house, cook by himself and start organic farming. He uses to say too that we have to earn the life with hands and sweat, which he did anyway even when he was parish priest and that, is the only way, after the work that will lead you to real prayer and meditation.

Born in Milan on February 19, 1950 and son of a family of farmers, Fr Bossi has a college degree on Industrial Technical Institute in Milan. But few in the village know, or perhaps none, that the man they call buotan was also a good basketball player. He played on the Amateur Italian Basket League.

He was ordained as a missionary priest on March 18, 1978 and since 1980, Fr Bossi has worked in the parishes of Manila’s slum district in Tondo and in the towns of Siay, Payao and Bayog all in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Then the request of Payao, for lack of priests in the Prelature of Ipil, which he gladly accepted because he was going back to a place he knew very well and where the people had shown in the past deep affection to him.

The road going to the parish it is now: Father Giancarlo Bossi Street.

The 57-year old priest, a member of the Rome-based Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was kidnapped on June 10 by rouge Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Payao town after celebrating mass and is being held in the jungles of Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region.

Thousands of Muslim and Christian villagers in the province, many may not have even met Fr Bossi personally, but the news of his kidnapping brought them together to pray everyday for his safe release.

A web log dedicated by the Pontifical Intitute of Foreign Missions to «buotan» shows a photograph of a man’s hairy legs in what appears to be in the middle of a mangrove jungle.

On its left foreground, a beautiful bird stands on a tree branch, its big brown eyes wide open as if the animal is curious of the presence of human in the wild or perhaps scared at the black barrel of an M16 automatic rifle on its opposite side. The photo has this written:Father Giancarlo Bossi.(Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 21 2007

Muslim Rebels, RP Troops Continue Operation To Free Kidnapped Italian Prelate

MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Jun) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels on Thursday continue working alongside with Filipino troops in searching for a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the troubled southern region of Mindanao.Marine Major General Mohammad Dolorfino said the MILF has ceased assisting government efforts to locate Fr Giancarlo Bossi, from Milan.He said the ad hoc joint action group, which authorizes the MILF to help in fighting criminalities and terrorism in areas where they are actively operating, has expired.Unless it is renewed, the MILF cannot help in the rescue efforts, he said.»On the part of the MILF, they have to stop active involvement in the meantime because if they are on the ground without coordination, there might be accidental encounters with government troops,» Dolorfino said.Bossi, 57, was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province and taken to Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region.But Mohagher Iqbal, a senior MILF rebel leader, said his group is still helping security forces track down the kidnappers and their hostage.»There is no truth to reports that we have stopped in assisting the Philippine government in the search for the kidnapped priest. The joint rescue operation is going on,» Iqbal told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.He said the MILF decision to continue the rescue operation is based on humanitarian grounds.»Freeing Father Bossi is founded mainly on humanitarian ground and also in furtherance of the gains of the peace process,» he said. «The life of man is of paramount importance over procedural matter.»The kidnappers have demanded one million dollars in exchange for the safe release of Bossi, a member of the Rome-based Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.Police tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue MILF leader, as behind Bossi’s kidnapping, a charge strongly denied by Iqbal.He said Abdusallam is a member of the Abu Sayyaf group which has ties with the al-Qaeda terror network and largely blamed for the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners in Mindanao.The MILF is currently negotiating with the Philippine government for a separate Muslim homeland in the restive, but mineral-rich Mindanao region.Dolorfino said the safety of the hostage is the primary concern of the military and that there is an ongoing negotiation to secure Bossi’s freedom without paying ransom.»Our primary consideration is Bossi’s safety. We will exert all peaceful means to resolve the matter,» he said.

The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has expressed concern over the fate of Bossi, who is said to be suffering from hypertension. It also appealed to the public for any information about the priest. (Juley Reyes, Joseph Danda and Juan Magtanggol)

Jun 20 2007

11 Days Passed, Kidnapped Priest Still Far From Freedom

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Jun) – Philippine troops continue searching for an Italian Catholic missioner, eleven days after he was seized by rebels in the restive region of Mindanao.Rebels have reportedly demanded one million dollars in exchange for the safe release of Rome-based Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions priest Giancarlo Bossi.“Soldiers are tracking down the kidnappers and the priest and right now, we do not their exact location, although there were reports that Bossi is taken to Lanao del Norte province,” Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, told the regional Mindanao Examiner newspaper.Bossi, 57, was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, 300 kms from Lanao del Norte.Police tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as mastermind of the kidnapping.Pajarito said the search for the priest has been hampered by bad weather and rugged terrain in the province. Torrential rains the past days, he said, slowed down the search for Bossi, a native of Milan.“Despite the rain, the search is still going on,” he said.The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, is also helping in the search for the kidnapped priest. Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said Abdusallam is a not a member of his group, but Abu Sayyaf, blamed by Manila for the terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the troubled region.Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon said troops have located the hideout of the kidnappers and that Bossi may soon be freed, but obviously it was far from truth.Dolorfino said the safety of the hostage is the primary concern of the military and that there is an ongoing negotiation to secure Bossi’s freedom without paying ransom.»Our primary consideration is Bossi’s safety. We will exert all peaceful means to resolve the matter,” he said.The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has expressed concern over the fate of Bossi, who is said to be suffering from hypertension.“As far as we know the captors and their masterminds have not yet been clearly identified, however the evidence points to a well-organized group who could make use of a pump boat, they were fully armed and well equipped and the capture of Fr. Giancarlo was carefully planned.”“Who are these Captors and Masterminds? Who is behind this drama? Why don’t they declare their purpose? Why are they playing with the life of a person and religious leader serving the people in a remote area? Are they threatening everybody, even the whole Nation and the International Community? They must have a purpose. Some people must know about this plan,” it said in a statement on Thursday.It also appealed for any information about the priest.“We pray that persons of good will may dare to bring out the truth and free the nation from those disgraceful acts of tensions Fr. Giancarlo may feel abandoned like Jesus on the cross, may we share with him and with all our people the joy of resurrection,” it said.On Wednesday, Italian missionaries in the Philippines have put up a virtual diary on the Internet to keep track of developments of a kidnapped prelate.“It’s raining in Zamboanga City. Reports, rather than bringing relief, bring only sad confusion. Days ago the military said that Giancarlo would have been released by the days end, then in 24 hours, then 48 and now in 72.”

“Days ago, various agents of the shadowy yet trustworthy secret service told us that Giancarlo was being held in the area of Sibuguey. Then he was no longer there, but near Lanao del Norte (300 kilometres east); then reports placed him on Basilan island (300 kilometres West). It’s like shooting at the breeze. The truth is lost on the face of the map,” part of the entry on the diary said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 20 2007

Italian Priests In Philippines Put Up Blog To Keep Track Of Developments Of Kidnapped Prelate

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 20 Jun) – Italian missionaries in the Philippines have put up Wednesday a virtual diary on the Internet to keep track of developments of a kidnapped prelate from Milan.

Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Rome-based Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missionaries (PIME), was kidnapped by rebels on June 10 after celebrating mass on the village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town.

“It’s raining in Zamboanga City. Reports, rather than bringing relief, bring only sad confusion. Days ago the military said that Giancarlo would have been released by the days end, then in 24 hours, then 48 and now in 72,” the PIME diary said.

“Days ago, various agents of the shadowy yet trustworthy secret service told us that Giancarlo was being held in the area of Sibuguey. Then he was no longer there, but near Lanao del Norte (300 kilometres east); then reports placed him on Basilan island (300 kilometres West). It’s like shooting at the breeze. The truth is lost on the face of the map,” it added.

The kidnappers demanded one million dollars for the safe release of the 57-year old priest.

A Philippine military official, Major General Mohammad Dolorfino, said Wednesday that the priest was spotted by villagers in the mountain town of Nunugan in Lanao del Norte province.

He said Bossi is being guarded by at least 13 armed men, five of them belong to the Maranaw tribe and six are Kalibugan natives and the remaining two were believed to be from Maguindanao province.

“Yesterday the Italian ambassador Rubens Anna Fedele came to be with us, PIME missionaries, on his way from Manila to Payao. We thanked him for what he is doing.”

“Fr Gianni Sandalo’s visit to the site of the crime together with other, has conformed that those who kidnapped Father Giancarlo, those who carried out the dirty work of physically taking him, are people linked to the local criminal underworld, perhaps even hired by others who are from the shadows protecting who knows what to exploit the hostage,” the PIME diary said.

Sandalo is PIME superior in the Philippines.

“In the meantime he remains an anonymous hostage lost in the confusion of information, but at the same time he is someone who we know well, who is fighting to survive in this strange land, adapting himself to these rains, which drench him as well as his abductors,” PIME said on their journal.

The Italian ambassador, who was in Zamboanga City on Wednesday, said there were no reports about Bossi’s fate. “It is difficult to trace the kidnappers. It is next to impossible,” Fedele told reporters.

He also denied Philippine media reports that the Italian government would negotiate with the kidnappers for Bossi’s release. “What has happened is against the Filipino law. The judicial system has its own say. The Italian government is not negotiating with the kidnappers.”

“We are not using Italian police; it is the Philippine police which is involved. We are not using the Italian army; it is the Philippine army that is involved. We are not using the Italian judiciary system, it is the Filipino judiciary system,” Fedele said.

The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, has been helping also in the search for Bossi.

Police tagged the leader of the gang holding Bossi as Akiddin Abdusallam, the deputy commander of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Jun 19 2007

Rebels Demand $1-M Ransom For Kidnapped PIME Priest In Southern Philippines

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Jun) – Philippine rebels have demanded one million dollars from the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) in exchange for the safe release of one of its kidnapped Italian missioner in Mindanao.The rebels, headed by Akiddin Abdusallam, a rogue leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is holding Fr Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, local authorities said.Rebel sources here said the kidnappers demanded the ransom from PIME, which has offices in Zamboanga City and Manila.PIME superior Rev. Gianni Sandalo said his group will not pay ransom.MILF senior rebel leader Mohagher Iqbal said Abdusallam is a not a member of his group, but Abu Sayyaf, blamed by Manila for the terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the troubled region.Iqbal also heads the MILF group which is currently negotiating peace with Philippine government.The MILF previously said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions of pesos in ransom.”Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Sison, local army commander, said troops have put up more roadblocks in Zamboanga Sibugay as part of a government rescue operation to free the 57-year old Bossi, from Milan.But a rebel spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said Bossi has been taken by his captors in Lanao del Norte province where MILF forces are pursuing the kidnappers. “We have forces also in the area and we are trying to get back the priest without ransom,” he said in a separate interview.Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon said troops have located the hideout of the kidnappers and that Bossi may soon be freed.The MILF is helping in the government rescue operation, but Kabalu said the presence of army soldiers in the area where Bossi is being held could jeopardize the effort for the release of the foreigner.“We don’t want a scenario that there will be accidental clashes between MILF fighters involved in the rescue mission and government troops pursuing the kidnappers. That will jeopardize our mission to rescue the priest,” he said.The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.But the accord ends on Thursday unless both sides agree to renew the interim pact and if not, the MILF may not be able to continue helping authorities rescue the missioner.The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, has previously helped in rescuing many Filipino and foreign kidnapped victims in the restive region of Mindanao.Major General Mohammad Dolorfino, leader of the government ad hoc joint action group, said the safety of the hostage is the primary concern of the military and that there is an ongoing negotiation to secure Bossi’s freedom without paying ransom.

«Our primary consideration is Bossi’s safety. We will exert all peaceful means to resolve the matter,” he said without elaborating. (Becky de Asis, Juley Reyes, Juan Magtanggol and Joseph Danda)

Jun 18 2007

After Evading Troops In South RP, Kidnappers Of Italian Priest Now Demand Huge Ransom

Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo appears in agony as he speaks on the phone in Zamboanga City after his fellow Italian missioner Fr Giancarlo Bossi, whose image is on his computer, is kidnapped by Muslim rebels June 10, 2007 in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province in southern RP. The rebels have evaded a massive military rescue operation in Zamboanga Sibugay and are believed hiding in Lanao del Norte province with the priest. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is helping in the rescue mission, says the kidnappers demanded a huge ransom.

(Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jun) – Muslim gunmen holding a kidnapped Catholic priest in the southern Philippines have demanded a huge ransom in exchange for his safe release.The gunmen demanded “tens of millions of pesos” for the freedom of Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), according to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is helping Filipino authorities rescue the 57-year old missioner from Milan.Bossi was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town. Police and military implicated a renegade leader of the MILF, Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother, Waning Abdusallam, in the kidnapping.The MILF denied Abdusallam is a member of the rebel group and said he had long joined the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.“Our forces have intercepted a random demand and the kidnappers are asking tens of millions of pesos in exchange for the freedom of the poor Italian priest. We are verifying this ransom note,” a rebel spokesman, Eid Kabalu, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner, by phone from an MILF headquarters in the southern Philippines.PIME superior Rev. Gianni Sandalo previously said his group will not pay ransom to the kidnappers. “We have no money. We are missionaries,” he said.

Bossi, who started his missionary in Payao since 1998, is the third Italian priest kidnapped in Zamboanga Peninsula in the past ten years.

Moro rebels kidnapped Fr. Luciano Benedetti, 52, in Zamboanga del Norte province in 1998 and held for nearly 10 weeks until he was freed in exchange for a huge government ransom.

In 2001, renegade MILF rebels snatched Fr. Giuseppi Pierantoni as the 44-year-old from Bologna said mass in the parish church of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur. He escaped from his abductors after six months in captivity.Bossi is believed being held prisoner in Lanao del Norte province after kidnappers evaded a massive military hunt in Zamboanga Sibugay.“MILF forces are trailing the kidnappers and we have located their hideout in Lanao and our fighters have surrounded their lair,” Kabalu said.Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, lpreviously said his troops have also surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout in Zamboanga Sibugay and that it was only a matter of time before they can rescue the hostage.

Pajarito could not be contacted on Monday and his phones were turned off.

But Kabalu said the government soldiers pursuing the kidnappers have increased and putting the MILF rescue mission in danger because of possible armed clashes between security and rebel forces. “We are trying to avoid accidental clashes between the MILF and security forces. This will put the rescue operation in jeopardy,” he said.

The MILF, which is talking peace with Manila, forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.

But the accord ends on Thursday unless both sides agree to renew the interim pact and if not, the MILF may not be able to continue helping authorities rescue the missioner.

The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, has previously helped in rescuing many Filipino and foreign kidnapped victims in the restive region of Mindanao. It also provided the Philippine government with a list of names of suspected Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding in Mindanao. (Mark Navales and Juan Magtanggol)

Jun 17 2007

Kidnapped Italian Priest Spirited By Captors In Southern Philippines

PIME Superior, the Rev. Gianni Sandalo, speaks on his phone in this photograph taken June 10, 2007 at his headquarters in Zamboanga City in southern RP after rogue MILF rebels kidnapped a fellow Italian missioner, Fr Giancarlo Bossi in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Independent sources tell the Mindanao Examiner that the kidnappers have escaped a massive military rescue operation with their hostage and are believed hiding in Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region.

(Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jun) – Kidnappers holding an Italian priest captive have escaped from a massive military rescue operation in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga Sibugay, independent sources told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner, on Monday.

Sources said Fr Giancarlo Bossi may have been brought to Lanao Del Norte province after his captors allegedly escaped from Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Security officials refused to comment on the reports.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels helping Filipino authorities Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), said they have cordoned off an area where the priest is being held.

Bossi, 57, was kidnapped at gunpoint June 10 after celebrating mass in the village called Bulawan in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Police tagged rogue MILF rebels led by Akiddin Abdusallam as behind the kidnapping.

But the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with the government, said the gang leader has long been wanted because of his criminal activities and that he has joined the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda.

Rebel forces have earlier given ultimatum to the kidnappers to free the priest unharmed or face assault. Rebels have traced Bossi’s location in Lanao province, according to other sources, but the MILF would not confirm nor deny reports of the escape.

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, earlier said his troops have also surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout and that it was only a matter of time before they can rescue the hostage.Pajarito could not be contacted on Monday and his phones were turned off.The MILF, which is talking peace with Manila, forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.But the accord ends on Thursday unless both sides agree to renew the interim pact and if not, the MILF may not be able to continue helping authorities rescue the missioner.

The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, has previously helped in rescuing many Filipino and foreign kidnapped victims in the restive region of Mindanao. It also provided the Philippine government with a list of names of suspected Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 17 2007

Muslim Rebels Nearing Hideout Of Kidnapped Italian Catholic Priest In South RP

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Jun) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels helping Filipino authorities rescue a kidnapped Roman Catholic priest have sealed a mountain hideout where the hostage in being held.

Rebel forces were preparing to storm the hideout of rogue MILF rebels blamed for the kidnapping of Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME).

Bossi, 57, was kidnapped at gunpoint June 10 after celebrating mass in the village called Bulawan in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

A senior rebel leader said his group has cordoned off the hideout where the missioner is being held by a notorious kidnap gang leader Akiddin Abdusallam.

Police said Abdusallam is the deputy commander of an MILF unit operating in Zamboanga Sibugay.

But the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with the government, said the gang leader has long been wanted because of his criminal activities and that he has joined the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda.

The MILF said it has given the kidnappers until before sunrise Monday to free the priest unharmed or face assault.

Rebel forces also put up a blockade in the neighboring province of Lanao del Norte to prevent the kidnappers from escaping with their hostage.

“Our fighters are getting ready to storm the kidnappers’ hideout if the priest is not freed,” one rebel leader told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said his troops have also surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout. “It is only a matter of time before we can back the Italian priest,” he said.

MILF soldiers have earlier destroyed the twin-engine speedboat used by gunmen in spiriting Bossi to Naga town. But there were no reports about Bossi’s fate.

The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.

A U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane is also helping in the search in the mountainous area of Zamboanga Sibugay. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 15 2007

RP Troops Surround Lair Of Italian Priest Kidnappers

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 16 Jun) – Filipino troops have surrounded a mountain area where Muslim rebels are believed holding a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the restive region of Zamboanga, officials said.Rouge members of the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, kidnapped Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), after celebrating mass June 10 in the village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town.The MILF, which is helping Philippine soldiers rescue the missioner, said its fighters destroyed the twin-engine speedboat used by gunmen in spiriting Bossi to a town called Naga, also in Zamboanga.“Our troops have surrounded the area where the priest is believed being held hostage. We have blockades at sea and on land to prevent the kidnappers from escaping.”“It is only a matter of time before we can back the Italian priest,” the commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, Major General Nehemias Pajarito, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.But there were no reports about Bossi’s fate. The MILF is helping Filipino security forces rescue the 57-year old priest.The MILF forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the rebel group is actively operating.The MILF said it is working closely with the government through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down criminals and terrorists.A U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane is also helping in the search in the mountainous area of Zamboanga Sibugay.The kidnappers also tried, but failed to hand over the priest to Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda in Basilan island.Filipino authorities tagged a rogue MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother Waning Abdusallam, in the kidnapping of Bossi, a native of Abbiategrasso region (Lombardy).In Bossi’s hometown, Italians held a silent torchlight procession and lit candles placed every night on windowsills and pray for his safe return.A picture of Bossi also hangs from the windows of Rome’s City Hall. Another one is on display in Piazza del Campidoglio, according Saturday to PIME’s online publication, the AsiaNews.It reported that Rome’s mayor, Walter Veltroni, said that the gesture “expresses Rome’s solidarity and hope that Bossi, who has chosen to dedicate his life to others, may soon be freed.Fr Davide Sciocco, director of the PIME Missionary Centre in Milan, said the missionaries’ commitment in the Philippines have always pioneered inter-faith dialogue and peace-making.

“Choosing to stay in dangerous areas does not come from some kind of strange impulse but is an act of fidelity and hope for local communities who often live in difficult situations,” he said. (With a report from Joseph Danda)

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