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Rebels, Residents Helping To Track Down Kidnapped Priest, Says Military Official

ICC Note: The organization originally accussed of kidnapping a Catholic priest is now partnering with Philippine police to find him.

6/16/07 PHILIPPINES (UCAN) — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and southern Philippine residents are helping government troops locate kidnapped Italian Father Giancarlo Bossi, a military official said.

On June 14, Major General Benjamin Mohammad Dolorfino, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) National Capital Region command chief, briefed reporters on developments in the case. He said the military has received information from the MILF that Father Bossi has been taken to a “mountainous area” in Mamagun, part of Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Dolorfino said the AFP and MILF are conducting a joint military operation to rescue the priest, and the MILF has provided all information about the location of the abductors.

“It is an interim agreement between the government and the MILF to cooperate in running after criminal groups in MILF areas, so in cases like this kidnapping, they can be involved in the operation under the principle of citizens’ arrest,” Dolorfino explained.

The general co-chairs the ad hoc joint action group created to monitor the truce between government troops and the MILF. He told reporters in his Manila office that the MILF has sent a “top-ranking member of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces to supervise” its involvement in the search-and-rescue operation.

The MILF, established in 1977 to fight for creation of an Islamic state, is negotiating peace with the government. It has denied that a suspected kidnapper of Father Bossi is an MILF member…

The executive secretary added that U.S. forces have also helped by deploying a “P3 Orion spy plane” to scour the seas around Jolo, southwest of Zamboanga Sibugay, where it was thought the priest might have been taken…

Daughters of Mary of the Assumption Sister Estela Castalone, executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines , (AMRSP) announced that an association “prayer brigade” has been activated since the day of the kidnapping.

“We have asked our members to continuously offer prayers for Father Bossi, and we hope that AMRSP could do something significant about this,” Sister Castalone told UCA News near Manila June 14…

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, a network of more than a hundred Moro (Muslim) civil society organizations in Mindanao , issued a statement June 12 appealing to the “Muslim population” to “pray to the Almighty for the immediate and safe release of Father Bossi.”

The statement, read by Islamic leaders over local radio and television stations in Mindanao , condemned the abduction and described it as a “despicable act.”

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