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Indonesian national Herman Bin Manggak, who was kidnapped by Islamist militants Abu Sayyaf, was released on Thursday (22 September), the Philippines military has said.
Army Major Filemon Tan Jr said in a statement that the extremist group turned over Herman to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which is involved in a peace process with the government after negotiations.
Tan said, "Herman was officially turned over to military custody at 12 noon and immediately taken to Camp Bautista hospital in Jolo [island] for check-up and processing. Talking to interpreters, he asked for food and relayed how government troops nearly rescued him three times as they engaged the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in fierce gunbattles."
The Indonesian man was abducted from a shipping vessel from the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah on 3 August.
Brigadier General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu said: "The release of the victim is the result of relentless focused military operations combined with efforts of different sectors particularly [the] LGU (local government unit) of Sulu and other stakeholders."
Between 17 and 18 September, the militant group released three Indonesian fisherman, who were kidnapped off Sabah in mid July. Before the release of the fishermen, the armed group also freed Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad, who they kidnapped in September 2015 from a resort in the Davao del Norte province in southern Philippines along with two Canadians – Robert Hall and John Ridsdel. The two Canadians were reportedly beheaded by the group.
The militant group based in southern Philippines has carried out bombings, abductions and assassinations and have sought ransom for hostages in a fight for the establishment of an independent province in Philippines.
Around 7,000 government forces are believed to be in Sulu fighting against 500 ASG members.