Abu Sayyaf releases Norwegian captive in Sulu

MANILA (Updated) -- The terrorist group Abu Sayyaf released Saturday a Norwegian national they abducted with two Canadians and a Filipina from a resort on Samal island in Davao del Norte nearly a year ago.

Kjartan Sekkingstad was freed around 4 p.m., said Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan.

"Confirmed, Kjartan Sekkingstad was released 4 p.m. today," said Tan in a text message.

He said the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) helped secure the release of the kidnap victim at an undisclosed area in Sulu.

"The release of the kidnap victims is an offshoot of the ongoing military operations to sustain pressure against the ASG and the assistance of the MNLF," said Tan.

Tan said Sekkingstad was proceeding to the provincial capitol of Sulu as of around 6:30 p.m. Saturday for "turnover to proper authorities."

"Under the intense pressure of focused military operations, the terrorist kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group was constrained to release Sekkingstad as holding him under custody slows down their continues movement," said AFP public affairs office chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

Arevalo said AFP chief General Ricardo Visaya commended the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who maintained the operational tempo.

"He (Visaya) expects there will be more KVs (kidnap victims) released under the same circumstances," said Arevalo.

He said the military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu will remain unrelenting.

"We will continue to forge the support and cooperation of the local residents who will ultimately benefit from the success of this operations," said Arevalo.

Sekkingstad was among the four victims snatched by Abu Sayyaf members from the posh Holiday Ocean View resort on Samal island last September 21 and later taken by their captors to Sulu.

The terrorists beheaded two of the hostages, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, in April and June, respectively, for failure of authorities and their families to pay ransom.

The Abu Sayyaf released the third captive, Filipina Marites Flor, in June. (VR/Sunnex)
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