Abu Sayyaf frees Norwegian hostage after 1 year

Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf releases Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who had been held hostage since September 2015.

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya, right foreground, is seen with a group of militants in this undated photo.

A Norwegian man held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines was freed on Saturday, Philippine officials said.

The militants released him in the town of Patikul in the Sulu Archipelago. He is now in a camp in the regional capital Jolo. He will be handed over to Philippine authorities on Sunday and then flown to the southern city of Davao.

Sekkingstad had been due to meet President Rodrigo Duterte later on Saturday but the meeting was cancelled because of bad weather.

Abu Sayyaf seized Kjartan Sekkingstad from an upscale resort on Samal island in Davao del Norte in September 2015.

Along with Sekkingstad, two Canadians and a Filipina woman were also taken hostage. The woman has already been released in June, but the Canadians were executed.

Archive photo taken on October 14, 2015 shows a video purportedly showing two Canadians who were abducted from a southern Philippines resort in September 2015. (AP Archive)

Abu Sayyaf is an Al Qaeda-linked militant group based in the south of the Philippines. It is notorious for making millions of dollars from kidnappings and extortion.

Sekkingstad’s release came as a result of intense military operations against Abu Sayyaf, but it is not immediately clear whether a ransom had been paid for his freedom.

Jesus Dureza, a peace adviser to the Philippines' president said, "His release from captivity capped months of quiet, patient but determined efforts with the assistance of all sectors."

Norway, which worked closely with Philippine authorities during the operations, described the release as a "positive development."

TRTWorld and agencies