VIDEO: Islamic State-Linked Abu Sayyaf Freed 4 Hostages in Philippines

Sun Sep 18, 2016 18:21:25

Three Indonesian fishermen held by Islamic State-linked rebels in the Philippines have been released, the Philippine military said on Sunday (September 18), just hours after the militias freed a Norwegian man after a year-long ordeal.

Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad was taken from an upscale resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte along with a Filipina, who has already been freed, and two Canadians, whom the militants later executed.

Sekkingstad was released at a rural town in Patikul on Saturday (September 17) and was under the care of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Philippine Armed Forces Western Mindanao command spokesperson Filemon Tan said.

"[It's] wonderful, and I like to extend a thank you to (the) chairman and all his people, to President (Rodrigo) Duterte, and everybody else that worked hard to make my release possible and for saving my life. I'm very grateful for being alive," Sekkingstad said while being escorted by MNLF chairman Nur Misuari.

Sekkingstad recounted his ordeals under the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf.

"I've basically been treated like a slave, like carrying their stuff around and from time to time abused, but other times treated fairly, but always kept in the dark and given misinformation, like, not reliable information, psychological pressure like: 'You gonna be beheaded [on] such and such a date', always threat hanging over your head," he said.

Three Indonesian fishermen identified as Lorens Koten, Teodurus Kofung and Emmanuel were also released by the Abu Sayyaf on Saturday night at an undisclosed place in Sulu, Tan said.

They were taken on July 9 this year from Malaysian state of Sabah, he said.

Kivlan Zen, a representative of the Indonesian armed forces, thanked the Philippine government and the MNLF for the assistance.

Abu Sayyaf, based in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines, is known for kidnappings, beheadings and extortion.

It had initially demanded one billion pesos ($21 million) each for the detainees, but it later lowered the ransom to 300 million pesos each.

While it is widely believed that no captives are released by the Abu Sayyaf without the payment of ransom, the Philippine government said it did not pay the group and was unaware of any payment made by other parties for the release of the victims.

Tan insists the release of the kidnap victims was a result of the ongoing intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf, with the assistance of the Moro National Liberation Front, one of the two major Muslim rebel groups based in the south of the mainly Catholic nation.

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