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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 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 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 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 09 2007

Philippine Authorities Fail To Locate Kidnapped Italian Priest

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 09 Jul) – Philippine authorities have failed to locate a kidnapped Italian Roman Catholic priest held by Muslim rebels in the restive southern region.Rouge members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), seized Fr Giancarlo Bossi, 57, on June 10 in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.The Milan-born priest belongs to the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME).“We have no developments yet. Our troops are searching for Father Bossi,” Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner on Monday.Last week, three photos of Fr Bossi were sent through cell phone to his friend, Spanish priest Angel Calvo, in Zamboanga City. Military sources said a former town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unknown how the former politician was able to get the photos.Philippine authorities were investigating the authenticity of the photos, all showing Fr Bossi sitting on a boulder surrounded by trees. One photograph showed Fr Bossi holding a transistor radio.“The emergence of photographs of the kidnapped priest two days ago, has raised hopes, but now there are speculations and requests coming from strange people, who we prefer to keep at bay. The interest of the media can also be dangerous if it is not well managed: we are interested in Fr Bossi as a person, not as an object of curiosity.”“This is just why prayers for his release are being organized continuously: the community of PIME in the Philippines has invited the nation’s faithful – as it has done every day so far – to pray incessantly for the liberation of Fr Bossi and for his deliverance from those who kidnapped him,” PIME said.The Peace Advocate Zamboanga, headed by Fr Calvo, said they would hold a mass in Zamboanga City on Tuesday, which will coincide with the international day of prayer called by PIME, exactly one month after the kidnapping of Fr Bossi.The MILF, which is monitoring the situation, previously said the kidnappers of the priest were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom.Acting Filipino Defense chief Norberto Gonzales told an Italian special envoy Margherita Boniver that Abu Sayyaf militants with links to al-Qaeda terror network are holding the priest. Boniver was in the Philippines last week to look into the progress of the search for Fr Bossi.But military and police maintained that the Milan-born priest is being held by rogue MILF rebels and not the Abu Sayyaf. The province is a known lair of the MILF.The priest was even reported to be in Basilan island. “There are reported sightings, reported landings that Bossi is in the area, but we have no positive identification, no positive engagement,” the island’s military chief, Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio.He said the photos of Fr Bossi will help military authorities in the search for the hostage.“I consider the picture of Bossi as a source of information. We are evaluating the background, the foliage, [his] disposition, the expression on his face,” he said in a separate interview.Bossi is the third Italian priest kidnapped the past 9 years in 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. (Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

Jul 08 2007

Ex-Basilan Mayor Is Source Of Bossi Photos

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 08 Jul) – A former town mayor in the southern Philippine island of Basilan was said to be the source of three photographs of a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest that surfaced this week.

Philippine military and police said rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front headed by Akiddin Abdusallam are believed holding the 57-year old priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Military sources said the former town mayor was the source of the photos, which were sent through cell phone to Spanish priest Angel Calvo, Bossi’s friend, in Zamboanga City.

It was unknown how the former mayor 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.

It was unknown when the photos were taken, but his group, the Rome-based Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) confirmed the photos.

«There are now pictures of the captivity of Father Giancarlo Bossi,» said a PIME blog dedicated to Bossi.

«Taken in an undisclosed place where there are trees of a young forest. He is wearing the same clothes he wore on the day of his kidnapping. The cinelas (slippers) are red and new.»

«There is (a pair of) rubber shoes too left on the ground. Containers of water suggest that they are hiking up in some higher places, may be mountains, where the air is much thin and cooler.

Other things are inside these pictures, but we do not care! We will never put them in this Blog. They make us sad. We like other pictures; those of the day of his liberation!» it said.

PIME said it has no contact with the kidnappers.

The MILF, which is monitoring the situation, said Bossi’s captors were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in ransom.

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. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jul 06 2007

RP Authorities Verify New Photos Of Kidnapped Italian Priest

One of three photos released by MISNA international missionary news agency Friday July 6, 2007 with a statement claiming the photos are ‘proof that Father Giancarlo Bossi is alive.’ Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, was seized by gunmen in the volatile Zamboanga Sibugay province in the southern Philippines on June 10. The Italian government sent an envoy this week for talks with Philippine authorities, on efforts to secure Bossi’s freedom. The Italian Foreign Ministry Friday was analyzing the photos for authenticity. (AP Photo/MISNA, HO). Editorial cartoon from PIME blog.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 07 Jul) – Philippine authorities are verifying photographs of a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest as security forces continue searching for the Milan-born hostage in the jungles of Mindanao.

The 57-year old missionary Giancarlo Bossi was kidnapped June 10 by rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, headed by Akiddin Abdusallam in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The photos were sent through cell phone on Thursday to a Spanish priest, Angel Calvo, Bossi’s best friend in Zamboanga City. “I saw one photograph and we are trying to authenticate this,” Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.Bossi’s congregation, the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME), also has copies of the photographs. “There are now pictures of the captivity of Father Giancarlo Bossi,” it said on a statement posted on a blog dedicated to Bossi.“Taken in an undisclosed place where there are trees of a young forest. He is wearing the same clothes he wore on the day of his kidnapping. The cinelas (slippers) are red and new.”“There is rubber shoes too left on the ground. Containers of water suggest that they are hiking up in some higher places, may be mountains, where the air is much thin and cooler. Other things are inside these pictures, but we do not care! We will never put them in this Blog. They make us sad. We like other pictures; those of the day of his liberation!” it said.Italian lawmaker Margherita Boniver arrived in a private jet in Zamboanga City late Friday to work with local authorities for the safe release of Bossi.The lawmaker, accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Manila, Rubens Fedele, met with top security officials, but details of the conference were not made public.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 on Friday.The PIME said the kidnapping of Bossi has brought fears to many people. Bossi is the third Italian missionary kidnapped in southern Philippines the past decade.“The mentality to abduct people has taken home in different places in our country. Somehow we feel that kidnappers are all over us, near our homes, families and children. A sort of evil that threatens all of us.”“On the other hand this threat calls us to strengthen our courage, the courage to overcome the fear in our souls. It is funny to hear how foreign people see us: as a country gripped by Islamic rebellion, kidnappings and killing media people: for money and revenge. We have to overcome this image of the Philippines. We should demonstrate that violence has no place in our culture,” it said.PIME did not say whether the kidnappers have demanded any ransom for Bossi’s release.But the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, previously, said the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions” of pesos in exchange for Bossi’s safe release.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.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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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)

Jul 01 2007

Kidnappers Of Italian Priest In Southern RP Break Off Talks With Emissaries

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 01 Jul) – Gunmen holding a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest in the southern Philippines have broken off talks with emissaries, making negotiations for the safe release of the hostage now more difficult.The Milan-born Father Giancarlo Bossi, of the Papal Institute of Foreign Missions, was seized by rogue members of the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front on June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.The MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, denied involvement in the kidnapping and is now helping the Filipino government rescue Bossi. But on Sunday, it said the kidnappers have stopped talking with both government and MILF emissaries for a still unknown reason.It said Bossi’s rescue is uncertain and the gang holding the 57-year old priest has been elusive.“The rescue operation for the Italian priest, Giancarlo Bossi, is still uncertain,” the MILF said, adding “Bossi’s kidnappers are highly elusive and stopped to deal with emissaries of both the government and MILF.”Philippine authorities said Bossi is being held captive by MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam, tagged as also behind previous kidnappings-for-ransom in Zamboanga Peninsula.Military officials gave conflicting reports about Bossi’s whereabouts and first said the priest was in Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay and that troops had surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout.But days later the military said Bossi is being held in Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region. It again said that the priest is still in Zamboanga Sibugay. There were too many security officials making different statement about the progress of Bossi’s kidnapping.Manila has dispatched three emissaries last week to try getting proofs that Bossi is still alive.Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesman, has previously said that the kidnappers were demanding “tens of millions of pesos” in ransom. Another senior MILF leader, Mohagher Iqbal, said the kidnappers only demanded P15 million.Marine Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, head of the government’s ad hoc joint action group involved in the peace process with the MILF, disputed Kabalu and Iqbal statements, saying, the kidnappers have not asked any ransom.Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said they have “good and positive” developments about Bossi, but he would not give details, saying, it could jeopardize the operation to free the missioner.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 criminal 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.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 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 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 24 2007

Seach For Kidnapped Italian Prelate Continues In Philippines

Western Mindanao military Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo appeals to citizens for any information about an Italian missioner Giancarlo Bossi, who is being held by rebels in Zamboanga Sibugay province. The kidnappers are demanding one million dollars for the prelate’s freedom. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Jun) – Philippine troops on Sunday continued searching for an Italian Catholic priest, two weeks after rebels seized him in the southern region of Mindanao.Rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels kidnapped Fr Giancarlo Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), on June 10 after celebrating mass in the coastal village of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province.The MILF is also helping in the search for Bossi who was reported to have been brought to Lanao del Norte province in the Muslim autonomous region, some 300 km east of Zamboanga.But Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said latest military reports suggest that the 57-year old missioner from Milan could still be in the jungle of Zamboanga Sibugay.“We believed the kidnapped priest, Father Bossi, is still in Zamboanga area,” Cedo told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.Cedo said the safe release of Bossi is more important and he appealed to citizens to help in the government search by providing authorities information about the priest and the kidnappers.“The rescue and recovery of Reverend Giancarlo Bossi has been the priority of the Western Mindanao Command ever since the kidnapping,” Cedo said. “I appeal to those who have any information to help us in locating Father Bossi.”Marine Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, head of the government’s ad hoc joint action group, said they continue to receive information from civilians about Bossi and all these are being validated.“There are reports that they are there (in Zamboanga Sibugay) ever since and this is being checked. There is information coming in. The reports are coming from civilian informants,” he said in a separate interview.PIME put up an Internet diary dedicated to Bossi and there a photo believed that of the prelate in the middle of a marshland is shown and an M16 automatic rifle is visible on the foreground.

The photo raised suspicions that there is a secret negotiation going on for the safe release of Bossi, who is being held by Akiddin Abdusallam. (Juley Reyes, Joseph Danda 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

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.

The MILF said Abdusallam was kicked out because of his criminal past and since then has joined the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, blamed by authorities for terrorism and kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled, but mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao. (Juley Reyes, Joseph Danda and Juan Magtanggol)

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 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)

Jun 15 2007

Muslim Rebels Destroy Escape Boat Of Italian Priest Kidnappers In South RP

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 15 Jun) – Philippine Muslim rebels pursuing the kidnappers of an Italian priest have seized a speedboat used by the gunmen in spiriting the missioner in the restive southern region of Mindanao.The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said its fighters destroyed the twin-engine speedboat used in the kidnapping of Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) priest Giancarlo Bossi.But there were no reports about the fate of Bossi, who was kidnapped June 10 after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Payao town by rogue MILF rebels with ties to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.Philippine authorities tagged a rogue MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother Waning Abdusallam, in the kidnapping Bossi.The MILF is helping Filipino security forces rescue the 57-year old priest, from Milan.The kidnappers also tried, but failed to escape to Basilan island, the military said.Filipino troops, aided by U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance plane, were searching for the hostage in the mountainous area of Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay.“We are tracking down the kidnappers in Zamboanga Sibugay. Our forces are combing the province in search for the priest,” A regional army chief, Major General Nehemias Pajarito, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.The search is mainly concentrated in the mountainous area of Naga town, but the MILF said the government hunt is scaring the locals away because of indiscriminate arrest of Muslim villagers on suspicion they were involved in the kidnapping.The MILF identified those arrested as Moner, Kaleng Kang, Nano and Atoy, all surnamed Yusop; and Malik and Merham Arajan.“They are reportedly being grilled to make them confess that they participated in the priest’s abduction,” the chairman of the MILF’s ad hoc joint action group, Abdul Dataya, said.General Pajarito said the men were only invited for questioning and all have been released.“There is no indiscriminate arrest of civilians. We are only inviting some people for interview about the kidnapping and they are also release immediately. Civilians are helping us and providing information about the priest,” the general 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.The MILF said it is working closely with the government through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down criminals and terrorists.The rebel group also provided the government of a list of suspected Filipino and Indonesian terrorists operating in Mindanao. It previously helped Philippine authorities track down and arrest suspected Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the troubled region.Early this month, MILF rebels rescued a German national and three other Filipinos kidnapped by bandits in the southern province of North Cotabato.The four — Thomas Wallraf, from Cologne, Germany and his wife, May Sharon and two others — Diego Daniel, their driver; and Consuelo San Juan, a family friend – were kidnapped while traveling in Pikit town.Last year, the MILF rescued a kidnapped nine-year old girl, Donna May Ramos, in Basilan island after rebels stormed the hideout of her captors and arrested two men, who were later executed.

Rebels also freed a kidnapped social worker, Henry de Guzman, in the southern province of Lanao del Norte last year. (With a report from Joseph Danda)

Jun 13 2007

Mastermind In Kidnap Or Italian Priest Still With MILF


An undated photo of a United States Navy Orion spy plane flying over Zamboanga Peninsula in the southern Philippines. The U.S deploys an Orion aircraft, also known as electronic warfare prowler jet, to help Philippine authorities track down an Italian missioner Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped by rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, possibly with ties to the Abu Sayyaf group linked to al-Qaeda. Below, a fleet of Orion planes stationed in Mactan Air Base in central Philippines, in this photo taken in 2006, from the archives of the Zamboanga Journal Online News. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 14 Jun) – The mastermind in the kidnapping of an Italian priest in the southern Philippines may still be connected with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Philippine authorities tagged a rogue MILF leader Akiddin Abdusallam and his brother Waning Abdusallam, in the kidnapping June 10 of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Rebel leaders initially denied the charges and blamed the Abu Sayyaf in the kidnapping, but the group’s deputy chief, Ghazali Jaafar, on Thursday said the chief kidnapper appears to be still a member of the MILF.

“Akiddin Abbusallam appears to be an MILF member up to this time,” said Jaafar, the MILF deputy chief for political affairs.

But Jaafar was quick to say that Abdusallam may also be innocent of all accusations against him.

“As far as we know, those who abducted the priest are notorious personalities involved in previous kidnappings (for ransom) in Pagadian City and Zamboanga City and in (Zamboanga) Sibugay,” Jaafar said. “They operate on their own and we cannot say if they have links or members of the Abu Sayyaf group.”

Jaafar said they have three suspects in the kidnapping of Bossi, but could not divulge them publicly, saying, it could jeopardize efforts to free the missioner.

Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said Abdussalam has denied any involvement in the kidnapping.

Pajarito said: “Akiddin Abdusallam has denied any involvement in the kidnapping of the Italian priest. Fr. Bossi. He said he has no participation in the kidnapping. Authorities are investigating this claim.”

Police said Abdusallam is the deputy commander the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the military wing of the MILF, operating in the province. He was previously reported to have died in a clash with troops, but it turned that he is alive.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu and chief rebel peace negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, both said that Abdusallam, who was a former leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, had long ceased to be a member of their group, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

For his part, Jaafar said the MILF is helping Filipino authorities track down the kidnappers and their hostage in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Catholic priests are also seeking contact with the kidnappers in an effort to secure the freedom of Bossi, who was seized after celebrating mass in the remote village of Bulawan.

The Philippines also sought the deployment of a U.S. EP-3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft, also known as electronic warfare prowler jets, to help ground forces trace the kidnappers.

The Philippine and U.S. forces previously used the spy plane, capable of carrying missiles, to hunt down Abu Sayyaf militants who kidnapped three American citizens in 2001 in Mindanao.

Reconnaissance aircraft routinely flies over Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago presumably to spot Abu Sayyaf positions. U.S. forces, on the request of the Philippine government, are helping Filipino soldiers in the campaign by providing satellite snapshots of the area of operation. (With a report from Mark Navales)

Jun 12 2007

Rebel Leader Denies Hand In Kidnap Of Italian Priest In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / 13 Jun) – The chief suspect in the kidnapping of an Italian priest in the troubled southern Philippines region has denied involvement in the disappearance of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi.Bossi, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was taken at gunpoint by renegade members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on June 10 after celebrating mass in the remote coastal village of Bulawan in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.Police and military have tagged the brothers Akiddin and Waning Abdusallam in the kidnapping. The MILF, denying its involvement in the priest’s disappearance, disowned the two men, saying, they are Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda.Police said Akiddin Abdusallam is the deputy commander of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces operating in the Zamboanga Peninsula.Army Major General Nehemias Pajarito, in-charge for the rescue of the missioner, said Akiddin Abdusallam denied any participation in the Bossi’s kidnapping.“Akiddin Abdusallam has denied any involvement in the kidnapping of the Italian priest. Fr. Bossi. He said he has no participation in the kidnapping. Authorities are investigating this claim,” Pajarito, commander of the First Infantry Division, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.He did not say if Abdusallam, also tagged in previous kidnappings-for-ransom and piracy in Zamboanga, contacted the military or has sent an emissary to deny all the charges against him.The 57-year old Bossi, from Italy’s Abbiategrasso region, has been described by his PIME superior, Rev. Gianni Sandalo, as a good man. “He is well-loved by everybody. He is a good man and Filipinos call him a gentle giant because of his huge size – he is about two meters tall,” the priest, also an Italian, said in a separate interview in Zamboanga City.Bossi, who started his missionary in Payao in 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. 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 10 2007

MILF Offers Help To Rescue Kidnapped Italian Priest In Philippines


Two undated photos of Italian missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, who has been kidnapped Sunday, 10 June 2007, in Zamboanga Sibugay province in the southern Philippines. (AsiaNews)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jun) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said it is helping Filipino authorities track down kidnappers of an Italian priest in Mindanao island.

Philippine authorities tagged MILF leader Akkidin Abdusalam, also known as Commander Kiddie, as behind the kidnapping Sunday of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi.

“We are still verifying the reports. The MILF is cooperating with the Philippine authorities,” a rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Gunmen seized the 57-year old priest after celebrating mass with villagers in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) said.

“We are awaiting reports about his abduction. Fr. Bossi was taken after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan,” the regional PIME head, Fr. Giani Sandalo, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Authorities have previously linked Abdusallam to previous kidnappings in Mindanao and a captured Abu Sayyaf militant, Omar Opik Lasal, also tagged the MILF leader to slain Jemaah Islamiya bomber Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi.

Lasal said the rebel commander provided him and al-Ghozi and another Abu Sayyaf terrorist Abdulmukin Edris safe refuge in Mindanao when they escaped from a police detention in Manila in 2003.

Al-Ghozi and Edris were later killed in separate clashes with security forces in Mindanao. Al-Ghozi, tagged as behind the 2000 bombing in Manila, had been serving a 17-year jail term for possessing explosives when he escaped.

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.

The Italian online AsiaNews on Sunday listed an overview of main abduction cases involving foreigners in Mindanao:

September 8, 1998

Fr. Luciano Benedetti, a missioner with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) is kidnapped near Sibuco town in Zamboanga del Norte province. He is released on November 16 after 68 days of captivity.

March 20, 2000

Muslim extremists from the Abu Sayyaf group abduct 29 Catholics, including many children, from a school on the island of Basilan. They demand the release of three Muslim activists imprisoned in the U.S. One of the hostages, the school’s director, Claretian Fr. Roel Gallardo, is killed in April.

April 23, 2001

Abu Sayyaf terrorists capture 21 hostages on Sipadan island in Malaysia, including seven Europeans. The group is made up of a German family of three, French and a Finnish couple, nine Malaysians, two Filipinos and two South Africans. They are moved to the island of Jolo, about a 1,000 km from Manila. The kidnappers demand a huge ransom and the creation of an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

August 28, 2001

Fr. Rufus Halley, an Irish priest from the Society of St. Columban for Foreign Missions, is killed during a kidnapping attempt by the MILF in Malabang town in the Apostolic Prefecture of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province. He was involved in inter-faith dialogue.

October 17, 2001

Italian missioner Giuseppe Pierantoni is kidnapped by alleged Muslim guerrillas belonging to the Pentagon Gang while celebrating mass in a church in Dimataling town in southern Zamboanga peninsula. He is released on April 14, 2002.

June 7, 2002

Abducted on May 27, American evangelical missioner Martin Burnham dies near Sirawai, a town also on Zamboanga del Norte province during an army rescue operation. Burnham’s wife is wounded but free.

“The kidnapping of Fr. Bossi is the latest of a long history of westerners abducted, almost always Christians. Kidnappers are seeking an independent Islamic state in southern Philippines. They look at fame or money by ransoms,” the AsiaNews said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 09 2007

FLASH REPORT: Italian Priest Kidnapped In Southern Philippines




An undated photo of Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi (above photo and left, second photo) with an unidetified man released by the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines to the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner. Suspected Moro rebels kidnapped the Italian missionary Bossi after celebrating mass with villagers in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, Sunday, 10 June 2007. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

A photo of kidnapped Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi is displayed on the computer of Fr. Giani Sandalo, head of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, as he speaks to a caller on his mobile phone on Sunday, 10 June 2007. Unidentified gunmen kidnapped the Italian missionary Bossi after celebrating mass with villagers in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province earlier on Sunday. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jun) – Unidentified gunmen kidnapped an Italian missionary on Sunday in the southern Philippines, Filipino authorities said.Gunmen seized Fr. Giancarlo Bossi after celebrating mass with villagers in the town of Payao in Zamboanga Sibugay province, the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) said.“We are awaiting reports about his abduction. Fr. Bossi was taken after celebrating mass in the village of Bulawan,” the regional PIME head, Father Giani Sandalo, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.The priest said they received reports about the kidnapping and appealed to his abductors to free the 57-year old missionary, who is also a member of the PIME.“Father Bossi is a good man and there is no reason to hold him against his will,” the priest said.The military said troops were helping the local police force track down the kidnappers in the Zamboanga Peninsula.“We are closely coordinating with the police to track down the kidnappers and the Italian priest,” Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the Army’s First Infantry Division, said in a separate interview.No group claimed responsibility for the latest kidnapping.Independent sources said rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila could be behind the kidnapping. But the notorious Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for the spate of bombings and killings is also active in the region.Founded in 1850 in Italy, PIME is an international, apostolic life society of priests, brothers and lay people who dedicate their lives to the mission among non-Christians in five continents. 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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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