Kidnappers urged to release 3 Filipino teachers

A teachers' association and city mayor appealed Monday to gunmen holding three teachers in the restive southern Philippines, saying the education of underprivileged youths in Muslim areas will suffer unless they are released. The teachers were snatched while traveling by boat near Zamboanga city's Pangapuyan island on Friday and were believed to be taken to Basilan island, a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants who are notorious for demanding ransom. They include one woman and two men, and the family of one of them reported receiving a call from the hostage together with a ransom demand. The family asked not to be identified for security reasons. Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat said the families were too poor to pay the ransom and the government would not pay either because that would encourage more abductions.