Ranks of Abu Sayyaf rebels in Philippines drop to less than 100

Manila – The ranks of Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels on a southern Philippine island dwindled to less than 100 after the group failed to generate ransom from freed Italian Red Cross hostage Eugenio Vagni, a military official said Tuesday. Major General Juancho Sabban, head of a local anti-terrorism task force, said many Abu Sayyaf guerrillas deserted the group after the captive International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) volunteer was released Sunday without ransom.

Vagni and two other Red Cross volunteers – Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Swiss Andreas Notter – were seized on January 15 on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

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