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Philippine Official Visits Kidnapped Red Cross Workers 


A Philippine government official has visited three Red Cross workers held captive by Muslim rebels in the south of the country and says they are unharmed.

The vice governor of Sulu province, Lady Ann Sahidulla, met with the three men Wednesday on the island of Jolo and said they are "fine and in good health." She showed reporters a photograph of her taken with the captives.

The Red Cross workers, who are from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines, are being held by rebels suspected of having links to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. They were kidnapped from their car at gunpoint on January 15.

Sahidulla said the gunmen holding the captives did not demand a ransom but said they wanted "livelihood" assistance and peace for Jolo.

The head of Asia operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed today's meeting as a positive sign.

The captives have been permitted to contact the Red Cross office in Manila several times since they were kidnapped. The Red Cross has repeatedly asked for their release.

In 2000, Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped 21 people from a Malaysian tourist resort and freed them after receiving millions of dollars in ransom.

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