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Fr Bossi freed in Lanao del Norte

MANILA, 20 July 2007—An Italian Catholic priest has been released in Lanao de Norte after being kidnapped for almost two months, authorities confirmed Friday.

Father Giancarlo Bossi, 57 of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was released 9:00 PM last night, “clearly very tired but in good spirit,” his congregation said in a news report.

The report also revealed that Bossi was released in Karamutan town in Lanao del Norte, following talks led by erstwhile mayor Jimiri of Tubularan town in Basilan.

Authorities immediately took him to a military camp in Zamboanga City following the release and underwent medical examinations.

Police claimed “no ransom” was paid for Bossi’s release.

Officials from the Italian embassy and his fellow priests have already visited him at Camp Cawa-Cawa.

In Italy, no other than Prime Minister Romano Prodi announced the good news to his countrymen.

“I am moved and happy. Today was his mother’s birthday, a very happy coincidence,” an international news agency quoted him as saying.

Still unidentified gunmen snatched him on June 10 near his church in a coastal village in Zamboanga Sibugay province on Mindanao island.

The military had said it believed a break away group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim rebel group talking peace with the government, was behind the abduction.

Last week at least 14 government troopers were killed, 10 of them were beheaded, in clashes with the Moro rebels when forces landed in Basilan to verify reports that Bossi was being held there.

No one claimed responsibility for his abduction. (Roy Lagarde)