Filipino Hostage Released

BAGHDAD, Iraq  A Filipino truck driver held hostage in Iraq for nearly two weeks has been freed, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress said Tuesday, a day after the Philippines said it had withdrawn its peacekeepers to meet the kidnappers' demand.

"The (United Arab) Emirates embassy has freed the Filipino hostage," said spokesman Haider al Bandar. He could provide no further details.

Philippine officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said hostage Angelo dela Cruz had not been seen yet by Philippine diplomats in Baghdad, but that they were checking reports that he may have been dropped off someplace in the city.

Militants who snatched the truck driver on July 7 threatened to behead him if the Philippines didn't withdraw all its troops out of Iraq.

The Philippines' 51-strong contingent had not been scheduled to leave Iraq until Aug. 20, but pulled out early in order to appease the kidnappers. The last Filipino soldiers left their base on Monday, and headed for Kuwait.

The Philippines has come under criticism from its closest allies, including the United States, for withdrawing early. Iraq's government warned Monday that the pullout would encourage terrorists.

20/07/2004

Bron : FOX News

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