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Norwegian hostage freed in Philippines

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Philippine government envoy secures release
A Norwegian held for a year by Islamic militants in the Philippines was freed on Sunday. He was handed to a Philippine government envoy along with three Indonesian seamen.
Kjartan Sekkingstad and the Indonesians had been held by Abu Sayyaf militants and were handed over to lawyer and envoy Jesus Dureza in the town of Indanan on Jolo Island.
Gaunt, heavily bearded and wearing a camouflage jacket, he said: “I am so very happy and lucky to be alive”.
The transfer took place at the heavily guarded camp of Muslim rebel leader, Nur Misuari, whose group assisted in the release. Unlike Abu Sayyaf, Misuari and his Moro National Liberation Front are currently in peace talks with the government.
As previously reported, in September 2015 Sekkingstad was taken from a resort he managed, together with two Canadians who were later beheaded when a ransom demand was not met. Hall’s partner Marites Flor was freed in June.
Authorities said that after a medical check-up and debriefing Sekkingstad would fly to Davao to be received by President Rodrigo Duterte.
A Duterte spokesman stressed that the government maintains a no-ransom policy, but “if there is a third party like his family that paid, we do not known anything about that”. Abu Sayyaf are reported in the local press as saying they got 30 million pesos (€560,000) for the Norwegian.
AFP / NTB

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