I heard on BBC world service that two of the female Jehovah's witnesses that had been taken hostage in the Philippines had been released. They said that two others were still being held. I can't find any other information on it at this stage.
two witnesses released in philippines
Philippine Muslim Rebels
Sat April 19, 2003 05:42 AM ET
MANILA (Reuters) - Two out of four Filipina women held by Muslim rebels for nearly eight months escaped on Saturday as the guerrillas slept, worn down by relentless army pursuit, President Glorial Macapagal Arroyo said.
The four women evangelists from the Jehovah's Witnesses were seized by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas along with two male preachers in August 2002. The two men were beheaded and the two other female evangelists remain in the hands of the rebels.
"The confusion in the enemy camp enabled the two women to abscond," Arroyo told a news conference in northern Baguio city.
"Day by day we are nearing the dawn of stability and peace in Sulu. There's no turning back. The terrorists are nearing the end of the road and the hopes of the people of the Sulu will soon be redeemed," Arroyo said in the news conference, carried live on local radio.
The women were being held in the interior of the rugged Jolo island, the biggest among the Sulu group of islands which stretch between the Philippines and Borneo.
The two hostages made their dash for freedom around midnight when the rebels, exhausted after fleeing government troops, fell asleep near villages close to the town of Patikul on Jolo.
They reached a highway by Saturday morning, hitched a ride on a passenger jeep and were taken given shelter by a professor from Mindanao State University who lives in Jolo city.
"The victims are all right now, but they have to be re-examined and undergo a thorough medical check up," Brigadier General Romeo Tolentino told reporters.
The Philippines is due to hold a second round of joint military exercise with the United States this year in the Sulu islands to help local soldiers fight terrorism. Last year, U.S. and Philippine soldiers trained together on nearby Basilan island, another Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
The evangelists' escape comes about a week after an Indonesian sailor fled the Abu Sayyaf. He was the third to escape out of four Indonesians seized by the rebels from a tugboat in June 2002. The fourth died in captivity.
The Abu Sayyaf, the most violent of several rebel groups fighting for an Islamic homeland in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines, is blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization with links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
The names of the two women who escaped were Emily Mantic and Cleofe Mantulo. They were soon to be reunited with their familes.
At least this is a happy ending for the two whose saga began a year ago. I hope the story ends equally well for the other two still in captivity.