Philippines

Freed Swiss Red Cross hostage leaves for Switzerland

Freed Swiss Red Cross hostage leaves for Switzerland Eds: epa photo 00000401703914, others availableManila  - Former Swiss Red Cross hostage Andreas Notter headed home on Tuesday, four days after he walked free from Muslim militants who held him captive for more than three months on a southern Philippine island.

Notter, 38, left for Hong Kong where he would take a connecting flight to Geneva, bringing along a cane and a coconut shell as reminders from his captivity on Jolo island,
1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

European Commission willing to provide more aid to Myanmar

European Commission willing to provide more aid to MyanmarManila - The European Commission is ready to provide more aid to Myanmar but the hermitic South-East Asian country must open up to dialogue with donors on the needed development assistance, a senior European aid official said Tuesday.

Koos Richelle, director general of the commission's Europe Aid Cooperation, said there has been little progress in providing aid to Myanmar because of the military junta's refusal to discuss development programmes needed by the country.

ADB sees Asia capital markets stabilizing, but recovery slow

ADBManila - Emerging Asia's capital markets are starting to stabilize, but their recovery could be lengthy and hard amid uncertainty over the global economic downturn, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report said Tuesday.

The Manila-based ADB urged the region's relatively resilient economies to help the equity, bond and currency markets recover as the global crisis ebbs and investor appetite returns, by improving regulation and supervision.

Muslim militants abandon abducted farm worker in Philippines

Muslim militants abandon abducted farm worker in PhilippinesManila  - Muslim militants abandoned a farm worker they abducted during a raid on southern Philippine village as troops closed in on them, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Government security forces found the hostage, Hernald Jace Delos Chavez, in the jungles of Al-Barkah town in Basilan province, 900 kilometres south of Manila, on Monday evening.

Captain Neil Estrella said Abu Sayyaf rebels left Chavez behind as they fled government troops closing in on their hideout.

Philippine military steps up pressure on Red Cross kidnappers

Philippine military steps up pressure on Red Cross kidnappers Manila - The Philippine military has tightened a security cordon around Muslim militants holding captive an Italian Red Cross worker, officials said Monday.

Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, was one of three Red Cross workers kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, on January 15. He is reportedly suffering from a hernia injury.

The rebels have freed Vagni's two colleagues, Swiss Andreas Notter on April 17 and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba on April 2.

Three injured in bus bombing in southern Philippines

Broadcast journalist killed in southern PhilippinesCotabato City, Philippines - Three people were injured Monday when a bomb exploded inside a passenger bus in the southern Philippines, a regional military spokesman said.

Major Randolph Cabangbang said the explosion occurred while the Rural Transit Inc passenger bus was traveling on a highway in Kabacan town in North Cotabato province, 960 kilometres south of Manila.

Cabangbang said three bus passengers were injured in the blast and were treated in a nearby hospital.

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