Abu Sayyaf frees 3 Indonesian captives


Posted at Sep 18 2016 11:07 AM | Updated as of Sep 18 2016 07:48 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Three Indonesian nationals who were taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants were released in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday, a day after the extremist group released a Norwegian captive. 

The Indonesian hostages were freed at around 1 a.m., following negotiations led by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair Nur Misuari. 

Misuari also helped secure Saturday's release of Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad, the last of four hostages who were taken by Abu Sayyaf bandits from a luxury resort on Samal Island last year.

Sekkingstad and the three Indonesians were set to meet Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza at the Jolo Airport on Sunday morning. 

From there, a government chopper transferred the Indonesians to Zamboanga City, while Sekkingstad was flown in to Davao City to meet President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The Indonesians underwent medical check-ups at Camp Navarro Hospital in Zambaoanga City at around 4 p.m. The Army's Western Mindanao Command has identified the trio as Lorence Koten, Teo Doros Kofong and Emmanuel Arakian. 

Their custody will be transferred to Retired General Kivlan Zen of the Indonesian military. 

Following the release of the victims, the Philippine government said it did not pay the Abu Sayyaf group a ransom and was unaware of any payment made by other parties for the release of the victims.

"I would like to reiterate that the government maintains the no-ransom policy," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said. "Now if there was a third party who made the payment, if it's the family (of the victim), we are not aware of that."

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, as well as the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Communications Chief Frode Anderson, also maintained that their respective governments adhere to a strict no-ransom policy.

The Abu Sayyaf, a ragtag group of several hundred gunmen, is notorious for ransoming off foreigners. It has also claimed responsibility for the worst terrorist attacks in the country including the firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that left over 100 people killed. -- with a report from Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News