Philip­pine ex­trem­ists had asked for ran­som

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Ran­som-seek­ing Abu Sayyaf ex­trem­ists have freed a Nor­we­gian man kid­napped a year ago in the south­ern Philip­pines.

Kjar­tan Sekkingstad was freed in Patikul town in Sulu prov­ince and was even­tu­ally se­cured by rebels from the larger Moro Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front, which has a signed a peace deal with the govern­ment and helped ne­go­ti­ate his re­lease, of­fi­cials said.

Of­fi­cials said that a Filipino woman who was taken at the same time as Sekkingstad was also re­leased. Two Cana­di­ans who were also snatched had been be­headed by the group.

Sekkingstad, held in jun­gle cap­tiv­ity since be­ing kid­napped last Septem­ber, was to stay overnight at the house of Moro Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front chair­man Nur Misuari in Sulu last night and then meet with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to­day, said Je­sus Dureza, who ad­vises Duterte on peace talks with in­sur­gent groups.

A plan to fly the newly-freed Nor­we­gian out of Sulu, a jun­gle-clad Mus­lim re­gion about 950 kilo­me­tres south of Manila, was can­celled yes­ter­day be­cause of bad weather, Dureza said. It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether Sekkingstad was ran­somed off.

Duterte sug­gested in a news con­fer­ence last month that a huge ran­som had been paid to the mil­i­tants but they con­tin­ued to hold on to him any­way.

The mil­i­tary said yes­ter­day that re­lent­less as­saults forced the ex­trem­ists to re­lease the hostage.

Cana­dian John Rids­del was be­headed in April and his com­pa­triot, Robert Hall, was de­cap­i­tated in June af­ter huge ran­som de­mands were not met. The Filipino woman was freed be­fore Duterte came to power on June 30.

Govern­ment forces launched a ma­jor of­fen­sive against the mil­i­tants af­ter the be­head­ings of the Cana­di­ans sparked con­dem­na­tion.

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