Abu Sayyaf releases 2 Filipinos after 4 foreigners

Release comes after ISIL-linked militants freed Norwegian, 3 Indonesians in troubled island province of Sulu

Abu Sayyaf releases 2 Filipinos after 4 foreigners

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines’ military confirmed Monday that the Abu Sayyaf militant group has freed two Filipino hostages following the release of a Norwegian and three Indonesian fishermen over the weekend.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the two employees of a Philippines telecom company were found late Sunday by a villager in Panglima Estino town in the southern island province of Sulu.

According to the statement, “sustained military operations pressured the Abu Sayyaf Group and continue to result in the consecutive releases of the kidnap victims these past few days."

Over the weekend, the group freed Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was kidnapped from a resort on the island of Samal in September 2015 alongside two Canadians who were beheaded earlier this year.

It later released three Indonesian fishermen -- who were abducted off eastern Malaysia in mid-July -- and all four men were hosted Saturday night by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebel group’s fugitive founder, Nur Misuari.

On Sunday, they were transported from Sulu accompanied by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza.

The military insisted Monday that a ransom had not been paid for the release of any of the hostages, including the two Filipinos who were seized by gunmen in Patikul town Aug. 6.

The MNLF, which is engaged in a peace process with the Philippines government, has been facilitating negotiations for the release of hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to still be holding captive at least 11 foreigners and three Filipinos.

In 2013, Misuari’s MNLF faction laid siege to the majority-Christian southern city of Zamboanga to protest a peace process by rival group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which Misuari claims leaves Muslims in the country’s south shortchanged in comparison to an earlier MNLF peace deal.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.

It is one of two militant groups in the south to have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the MILF that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Eylül 2016, 09:57