WEDNESDAY
April 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 82
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

HOSTAGE PRIEST URGES END TO ATTACK ON REBELS

    ZAMBOANGO, Philippines (CWNews.com) - A priest being held hostage by an extremist Muslim rebel group on Tuesday appealed for the Philippine government to end a military attack on the rebels' camp.

    Claretian Father Ruel Gallardo told a local radio station the captives, including 22 children, were in danger of being killed in the artillery bombardment. "We are all scared, we will die from the bombings," he said. "If you want us to be released, let us do it peacefully through negotiations, not through bombings. It is not only bullets that will kill us but also terror."

    He also appealed for the government to give in to the rebels' demands, including the release of three Islamic terrorists in jail in the United States. The US has refused to release the three, including the cleric Ramzi Yousef who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York. "Whatever the group's demands are, give it to them," Father Gallardo said. "Withdrawal of the military is the number one need right now if you want to save our lives." It was unclear whether the priest was expressing his own opinions or was to forced to read from a rebel script.

    Last month, the Abu Sayyaf rebel group kidnapped more than 70 children and teachers from two Catholic schools in the southern Philippines, releasing most within several days. However, 29 of the hostages were still being held until last week when the rebels beheaded two adult male teachers as a "birthday present" for President Joseph Estrada. The army began an attack on the rebels' mountain stronghold on Monday in an effort to free the captives.

    A military spokesman said the rebels appeared to be using the hostages as human shields, hiding in underground shelters while forcing the captives to stay in a hut above ground. Abu Sayyaf is one of several Muslim groups fighting to establish a separate Islamic homeland in southern area of the mainly Catholic Philippines.

          

April 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 82
NEWS & VIEWS

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