Islamist militants free Norwegian hostage in southern Philippines

Islamist militants on Saturday freed a Norwegian man held captive for almost one year in the southern Philippines, the military and a spokesman for the kidnappers said.

Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, was turned over to a local Muslim commander on Jolo Island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, said Abu Ramie, a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

Ramie said the group received 30 million pesos (638,000 dollars) in ransom for Sekkingstad's release.

Major Felimon Tan, a regional military spokesman, said the release was "an offshoot of the ongoing military operations to sustain pressure against" the Abu Sayyaf.

"Simultaneous land, air, naval and police operations complemented each other putting pressure on the Abu Sayyaf," he added.

Sekkingstad was abducted with two Canadians and a Filipino from the southern resort island of Samal on September 21 last year by the Abu Sayyaf militants.

The kidnappers beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel on April 25 and Robert Hall on June 13 after ransom was not paid before a deadline they set. Filipino Marites Flor was released.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in the Philippines, is still holding captive eight Malaysians, eight Indonesians, a Dutchman and several Filipinos.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the military to crush Abu Sayyaf and also warned that the group could be a source of recruitment for the Islamic State extremist group.

Last update: Sat, 17/09/2016 - 14:42

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