Militants free two hostages in Philippines

Sunday 03 February 2013 22.45
Militants free two hostages in Philippines

Al Qaida-linked militants have freed the two Filipino members of a kidnapped Jordanian TV reporter's crew in the country's south after eight months of jungle captivity.

Policemen found cameraman Ramel Vela and audio technician Roland Letriro and brought them to a hospital in southern Sulu province.

They were kidnapped in June along with Jordanian Baker Abdulla Atyani, provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra said.

Mr Atyani is believed to still be held by the gunmen in the jungles of Sulu's mountainous Patikul town, about 950km south of Manila.

"We're so happy. We never thought we'd make it out alive," a teary-eyed Mr Vela said at his hospital bed, adding that he and Letriro had not seen Mr Atyani since the Jordanian was separated from them by their kidnappers five days after they were seized.

Visibly thinner, shocked and with overgrown hair and beard, the two were examined by doctors and given bread and water in the Sulu hospital, which was guarded by police and marines.

"They really lost weight because they were constantly under stress each day," Supt Freyra told The Associated Press.

An unspecified amount was paid to secure the freedom of the two captives, according to three security officials who have been closely monitoring the kidnappings.

The three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters.

Military officials have said Abu Sayyaf militants have demanded 130m pesos (€2.3m) for the release of Mr Atyani and his two crew members.