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Swiss hostage: ordeal now “difficult”

MANILA – A Swiss Red Cross worker held hostage with an Italian and a Filipina in the Philippines said Tuesday their situation was becoming "very difficult".

"We are in a very difficult situation", 38-year-old Andreas Notter told Manila radio station DZEC in a telephone interview from where they are being held, thought to be on the southern island of Jolo.

"They (the kidnappers) are under military pressure", he added. "We have to be on the alert as well".

It was unclear whether Notter was speaking under force. The International Committee of the Red Cross had no immediate comment.

Notter, Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Mary-Jean Lacaba of the Philippines were kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission on Jolo on 15 January. The kidnappers allowed medicines to be delivered to the 62 year-old Italian.

The Philippine military say they blocked off a four square kilometre area of jungle to prevent the gunmen, blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines, from taking the captives elsewhere.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen made "political" demands that the authorities deem unacceptable.

The Abu Sayyaf, which was linked to the Al-Qaeda terror network, is known for kidnappings and bomb attacks on Christians and foreigners.

Another unit of the group is also believed to be holding a Sri Lankan peace activist who was kidnapped on the southern island of Basilan earlier in February.

[AFP / Expatica]