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Muslims in Philippines Release Kidnaped American Missionary

July 20, 1986|Associated Press

MARAWI, Philippines — American missionary Brian Lawrence, clutching a rifle in his mosquito-bitten arms, was released Friday by Muslim gunmen who held him for six days in the forest. Hours later, a military official said troops were ordered to move against the kidnapers.

Lawrence, 30, said his captors threatened to kill him if the military attempted a rescue operation.

But he said he was treated well and added, "From the beginning, I knew that their intention was to release me and not to harm me."

Maj. Gen. Jose Magno, head of the military's southern command, said in a statement released by his headquarters that he ordered unspecified "operations" against Lawrence's kidnapers and a separate group of Muslims who held 10 Filipino nuns for six days. The nuns were freed Thursday.

Magno's spokesman, Lt. Col. Anthony Elias, said a battalion of troops was sent to Marawi, 510 miles south of Manila, to back up one that arrived there Thursday with a tank and artillery.

However, Marawi area commander Col. Raul Aquino said more than three hours later that he had not received the order, which also called for the kidnapers' arrest. Aquino said he did not believe that an attack would be conducted unless arrest warrants were issued and the kidnapers refused to surrender.

President Corazon Aquino said no ransom was paid for Lawrence's release. He was the eighth foreigner kidnaped since 1978 in Lanao del Sur province on Mindanao island.

"I would like now to call on all brother Filipinos in the south to stop this senseless capture of innocent civilians, more so if they are guests of our country as in the case of Mr. Lawrence," Mrs. Aquino said in a statement.

In Washington, White House spokesman Edward Djerejian thanked Mrs. Aquino "for her concern and personal efforts."

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