Rebels Seize Journalists, Paid Ransom

Article excerpt

JOLO, Philippines -- Muslim rebels holding 21 hostages on a southern Philippine island grabbed a group of foreign journalists and then released them 10 hours later in exchange for $25,000 in ransom, police and one of the journalists said yesterday.

The 10 journalists, mostly Germans, were seized in a nearby village Friday while planning a visit to the rebel camp to interview the hostages.

Der Spiegel reporter Andreas Lorenz said his group included six other Germans, one Australian, one Dane and one French.

Lorenz said they had planned to follow a medical team sent by the government Friday to visit the hostages, but the rebels stopped them.

He said the rebels first asked them to "pay" 50 sacks of rice to be allowed inside the camp, but the group refused on grounds that journalists do not pay for interviews.

The journalists were led inside a jungle, where rebels took their personal belongings, including shoes, watches, tape recorders, bags and a satellite telephone.

According to police, the rebels initially demanded $1 million for their freedom, but later lowered the amount. …