Iraqi group denies releasing Filipino driver
Saturday 10 July 2004, 22:51 Makka Time, 19:51 GMT
Aljazeera is reporting that the Iraqi group holding a Filipino driver has denied Philippine TV reports that he was released.
The purported Iraqi group instead told the Philippine government that it has an additional 24 hours to prove that it is sincere in removing its forces from Iraq.
Calling itself the 'Khalid bin Walid brigade of the Islamic Army', the group said that de la Cruz will be killed if the Philippines does not withdraw its forces by 20 July.
The Philippine government cancelled a planned news conference on de la Cruz's release in lieu of recent developments.
Earlier on Saturday, President Gloria Arroyo told a relative of Filipino captive Angelo de la Cruz that he has been released and is on his way to a
hotel, according to a report by local television news channel ANC. Baghdad
Arroyo called the De la Cruz family to say he was being brought to the hotel following negotiations with his captors, who had demanded Manila withdraw its troops from Iraq, the Philippine secretary of labour, Patricia Santo Tomas, said.
Asked by a television reporter if this was a positive development for the release of the Filipino, Tomas said, "Yes."
Government officials had earlier pleaded with the Iraqi captors not to kill the Filipino truck driver after a videotape released to the media showed him making a "final appeal" for his life, saying it would withdraw its humanitarian force within weeks.
Foreign Secretary Delia Domingo Albert said
had already planned to pull out its 51-strong force on August 20, when its one-year mandate expires. Manila
The statement was an apparent shift from
's previous stance that it would reconsider its deployment then, but other government officials said there had been no change and were adamant the government would not give in to captors' demands. Manila
"The decision (to withdraw) has really been taken since the day we went to
a year ago and said we would stay for a year," Albert said in an interview with CNN. Iraq
Bron : Aljazeera + Agencies
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