Philippine rebels free Red Cross worker after 25 weeks

July 12th, 2009 - 4:36 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva/Manila, July 12 (DPA) An Italian humanitarian aid worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was freed Saturday, 25 weeks after he was kidnapped by Muslim militants in the Philippines.
Eugenio Vagni, 62, was released by Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels in Maimbung town on Jolo Island, 1,000 km south of Manila after 174 days in captivity.

An ICRC official told the DPA that the organisation had telephone contact with Vagni and had confirmed that he had been released.

Major General Juancho Sabban, head of a local anti-terrorism task force, said Vagni is suffering from a hernia but was in relatively good health.

Vagni was brought to a marine camp in the town of Jolo where he underwent a medical check-up at the camp’s trauma hospital, Sabban said.

Vagni was seized by Abu Sayyaf rebels Jan 15, along with two other ICRC workers who were released, while inspecting a water sanitation project in Sulu provincial jail on Jolo.

Vagni’s co-captives, Swiss citizen Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba, were released separately in April.

Vagni’s prolonged captivity was a matter of great concern for the humanitarian organisation, particularly as he was said to have been suffering from poor health.

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