APEC calls for immediate steps vs swine flu, but no travel ban

Swine FluManila - Asia-Pacific transport ministers on Wednesday called for immediate steps to contain the spread of a deadly swine flu virus outbreak, but they did not call for a travel ban in the countries affected by the disease. At the end of the 6th Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the ministers expressed concern over the spread of the swine flu virus, which now affects seven countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Philippine troops track down militants holding Red Cross hostage

PhilippinesZamboanga City, Philippines - Philippine troops have tracked down Muslim militants holding captive an ailing Italian Red Cross employee on a southern island, officials said Wednesday. Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, was sighted with a group of Abu Sayyaf rebels in the jungles of Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

"Our troops know where they are," Puno said, but he declined to give details on when the sighting occurred and the exact location.

Governor Abdusakur Tan added that Vagni, who was reportedly in need of immediate medical attention due to a hernia injury, was still alive.

Communist rebels abduct soldier in southern Philippines, army says

PhilippinesManila - Communist rebels abducted a Philippine army soldier who visited a clinic for a medical check-up in a southern province, an army spokesman said Wednesday. Troops have been dispatched to rescue Private Ronnie Trinidad from the guerrillas in Compostela Valley province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, Lieutenant Franco Ver Lopez said.

Trinidad went to a clinic in New Bataan town Tuesday after experiencing stomachaches and was accompanied by another soldier, who bought supplies for their battalion, Lopez said.

Asia-Pacific ministers concerned over swine flu impact on travel

Asia-Pacific ministers concerned over swine flu impact on travel Manila- Asia-Pacific transport ministers on Tuesday expressed concern over the possible impact of a deadly swine flu outbreak on global travel and agreed to undertake "urgent steps" to prevent the spread of the disease. Philippine Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista said officials and representatives of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) economies called for greater cooperation to ensure public safety.

Three communist rebels killed in clash in Philippines

Bomb explosion kills one in southern Philippine resort Manila - Three communist rebels were killed Tuesday in a clash with government troops in an eastern Philippine province, an army spokesman said. Major Armand Rico said soldiers were dispatched to a remote village in Palapag town in Northern Samar province, 465 kilometres south-east of Manila, to check on reports of rebel extortion.

The firefight erupted when the soldiers caught up with at least 40 rebels, Rico said.

Philippine forces lose track of ailing Red Cross hostage

Philippines closely monitors kidnapped Filipino seamen in Somalia Manila- Philippine security forces have lost track of an ailing Italian Red Cross worker held by Muslim militants on a southern island for over 100 days, a Marine spokesman acknowledged Monday. Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo appealed for public "patience and understanding" as security forces tried to determine the exact location of Eugenio Vagni, a staffer of the International Committee of the Red Cross.