Philippine Rebels Free 2 Hostages

From Reuters

A teenage Filipina and a telephone company executive were freed from weeks of captivity in the southern Philippines on Tuesday and said an American missionary couple held with them was alive.

But the released hostages also said that they had not seen a third American, Guillermo Sobero of Corona, for three weeks. Sobero was kidnapped along with them May 27, and their Muslim rebel captors have claimed to have beheaded him.

Local officials said ransom was paid for the freedom of Lalaine Chua, 15, and Luis Bautista, 32. The Abu Sayyaf rebels claimed that the two were freed unconditionally but that new attacks on U.S. and European nationals and property will be launched unless rebel demands are met.

These include the withdrawal of Western troops and businesses from the Middle East and the end of support to Israel.

The Abu Sayyaf gunmen profess to be fighting mainly for a Muslim homeland in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, but their principal activity appears to be kidnapping for ransom.

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