Date
24 September 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte meets Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad after the latter was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group. Photo: Reuters
President Rodrigo Duterte meets Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad after the latter was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group. Photo: Reuters

Norwegian hostage released by Philippine rebels

A Norwegian man held captive by a militant Islamist group in the Philippines for almost a year is free.

Kjartan Sekkingstad was released by Abu Sayyaf on Saturday, according to CNN Philippines and the state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA), citing Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr.

Sekkingstad’s release was an offshoot of ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf group, Tan told CNN Philippines.

It is unclear whether a ransom was paid to secure Sekkingstad’s release.

Sekkingstad was abducted on Sept. 21, 2015, on Samal Island off the coast of Mindanao.

Three people were kidnapped with him — Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Filipina Tess Flor.

Hall, Ridsdel and Flor were visiting the resort’s marina on their yacht and Sekkingstad was the manager of the property.

Abu Sayyaf initially demanded a US$6.3 million ransom for each of the victims to be paid by April 25, according to Philippine state media.

In March a jarring video surfaced, showing the four pleading for their lives.

In April, after murdering Canadian hostage Ridsdel, the group reset the deadline to June 13 for the remaining three hostages.

A video obtained in May by SITE, a group that monitors extremist and terrorist groups, showed three hostages surrounded by six armed militants.

Abu Sayyaf beheaded Hall in June. Flor was released June 24, less than a week before Rodrigo Duterte officially assumed the presidency.

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CG/RA

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