Iraq: Filipino hostage freed after Manila says forces to withdraw next month
Iraqi kidnappers freed a Filipino truck driver whom they held and threatened to behead, the Philippine labor secretary said Saturday.
Earlier, the kidnappers of Angelo dela Cruz had threatened in a video broadcast Wednesday to kill him if the Philippines didn't pull its 51 police and soldiers from Iraq within three days.
"Please, Arroyo, withdraw your forces from Iraq," dela Cruz pleaded on the new video broadcast on Al-Jazeera, referring to Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Al-Jazeera announcer said the video was intended as the hostage's last appeal to his family, government and friends. The government had earlier said it would not bow to the kidnappers' demands.
Moments before the tape was aired, the Philippines announced it would withdraw its 51-member peacekeeping contingent from Iraq as scheduled after its mandate ends Aug. 20.
Dela Cruz was reportedly snatched near Fallujah in an attack that left his Iraqi security guard dead. He reportedly worked as a truck driver for a Saudi firm.
"To my colleagues in the Saudi company, and all Filipinos who are coming to Iraq. I advise you not to come to Iraq, because there are a lot of problems, and the Iraqi police won't be able to protect you, like what happened to me," he said, according to the announcer. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)