A Franco-Lebanese woman held hostage by Philippine rebels, Marie-Michele Moarbes, is expected to be released imminently, a Lebanese government source said Friday.
Moarbes would be released in a matter of hours and handed over Sunday or Monday in Libya, the source said.
Prime Minister Salim Hoss has been informed and Water Resources Minister Soleiman Traboulsi is due to fly to Tripoli on Saturday to accompany Moarbes home and thank the Libyan government for its mediation efforts, the source said.
Hoss said last week he had accepted a Libyan offer to pay a ransom for Moarbes' release. She has been held for the past three months with 11 other Western hostages by Muslim rebels on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines.
Hoss said that the daughter of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Seif al-Islam, had proposed to pay a one million-dollar ransom to the Muslim Abu Sayyaf group, though the report could not be confirmed by officials in Tripoli.
The Lebanese An-Nahar daily began a collection on August 4th to raise the money for a ransom, the newspaper itself contributing more than 10,000 dollars. However, the fundraising was suspended after objections from Moarbes' father.
The crisis began across the border in Malaysia on April 23rd when a small group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen raided the dive resort of Sipadan and seized 21 western tourists and Asian resort workers.
Six Malaysians and a German from the Sipadan abduction have been freed, along with a German reporter and two Filipino journalists who went to cover the crisis, for what the Philippines military estimated were cash ransoms totaling 245 million pesos (5.5 million dollars).
The Abu Sayyaf also holds three French television journalists abducted in Jolo on July 9th, along with three Filipino quarry workers - BEIRUT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )