ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants tied the Islamic State have freed a kidnapped Norwegian man following negotiations by former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front in Southern Philippines, army reports said.
It said Kjartan Sekkingstad was released late Friday to MNLF commander Tahil Sali in the village of Buanza in Sulu’s Indanan town. The reports further said that some P30 million ransoms had been paid to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange for Sekkingstad’s freedom.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza flew to Sulu on Saturday to fetch Sekkingstad.”No info on ransom,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Dureza was also quoted by ANC Television as saying that Sekkingstad was brought to the house of MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari where he will stay until Sunday before flying out of Sulu.
Just last month, President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters that private negotiators paid P50 million ransoms to the Abu Sayyaf for the safe release of the 57-year old Sekkingstad, but the militant group demanded P250 million more.
Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner, who previously met with Duterte in Davao City, thanked the Filipino leader for his continued efforts to secure the release of Sekkingstad. It was unknown whether the ransoms paid to the Abu Sayyaf came from the Norwegian government.
Sekkingstad was kidnapped along with Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and a Filipino woman Maritess Flor in September last year at a posh resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte province.
Both Ridsdel and Hall were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf for failing to raise ransoms, while Flor was freed in June.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding more than a dozen other hostages, including Malaysian and Indonesian tugboat crew men and Filipino fishermen kidnapped in Sabah in Malaysia. (Mindanao Examiner)
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