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Militants free 3 Indonesian hostages in southern Philippines

AP  |  Manila 

Muslim militants have freed three Indonesian men they kidnapped at sea early last year off then brought them to their jungle hideouts in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.

The Indonesians were freed Friday with the help of the National Liberation Front, a rebel group that signed a peace deal with the Philippine government, in Indanan town in province, police said.

The released hostages, Hamdam Salim, and Sudarlan Samansung, were to be handed to the Indonesian in southern Zamboanga city later Sunday, the said.

While cruising on board a speedboat, the three were taken at gunpoint by suspected militants off Malaysia's state on Borneo island in January last year.

The hostages were brought aboard motorboats to the gunmen's jungle hideout in Sulu, a poor, predominantly Muslim province in the where the has had a presence since the late 1980s, security officials said.

An commander, Marjan Sahidjuan, who uses nom de guerre Apo Mike, led the abductors who freed the captives in exchange for a ransom, a said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to talk to media.

Regional spokesman said the is unaware of any ransom payment and added that relentless offensives pressured the kidnappers to let go of their hostages.

Efforts by the Philippines, and to beef up security along their massive sea border have considerably eased piracy and kidnappings in the past months primarily by the Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by the and the as a terrorist organisation.

The Philippine police, however, said that the two Indonesian skippers of a Malaysian fishing boat were abducted on Tuesday off in Sabah, Malaysia, and also taken by suspected militants armed with rifles toward the

The said it was trying to confirm the reported kidnapping.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 13:50 IST