Abu Sayyaf militants in Philippines release Norwegian hostage

MANILA - A Norwegian taken hostage by a small, but brutal, group of Islamist militants in southern Philippines nearly a year ago was released on Friday (Sept 16), the online news site Rappler reported on Saturday, citing military sources.

It said Mr Kjartan Sekkingstad, 57, was released in Indanan town in Sulu province, 1,400km south of the capital Manila, after the Abu Sayyaf, a group with ties to the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria, received 30 million pesos (S$858,000) in ransom.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said 50 million pesos were paid.

Rappler said Mr Sekkingstad was released through a certain Tahil Sali, said to be a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu province, a stronghold of the Abu sayyaf.

Security officials have yet to comment on the report, but a police source in Sulu confirmed Mr Sekkingstad was taken to the house of Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan at around 8pm on Friday.

In June, the Abu Sayyaf freed Ms Maritess Flor, 41, a Filipino it abducted with Mr Sekkingstad and two Canadians - Mr Robert Hall, 51, and Mr John Ridsdel, 68, on Sept 21 last year from the Holiday Oceanview Samal resort on Samal island, in Davao province, and taken to Sulu.

Her ransom was reportedly 20 million pesos.

Mr Hall was executed in June, while Mr Ridsdel was beheaded in April.