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Three Indonesian hostages freed in Philippines: army

AFP  |  Jolo 

Three Indonesian fishermen held by members of a notorious Islamist kidnap-for-group have walked free 18 months after they were abducted off the southern Philippines, the military said on Sunday.

The men were kidnapped in January 2017 while on board a speedboat off the southernmost island group of Tawi-Tawi, which together with the nearby archipelago are preyed on by militants.

The Indonesians were freed in the town of in on Saturday and "turned over" to authorities following "intensified military operations" against the Abu Sayyaf, a said without giving details.

Asked if a was paid, told AFP: "No, there was definitely no given. (They) were pressured by our operations." The has been known to behead hostages unless ransom payments are made.

The group is a of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. It has earned millions of dollars from banditry and kidnappings-for-ransom, often targeting foreigners.

The is based in strife-torn southern islands but its members began in 2016 to kidnap sailors in the waters between Indonesia, and the

The rise in abductions sparked Indonesian warnings that the region could become the "next Somalia" and pushed the three neighbours to pledge joint naval patrols.

On Sunday the identified the three Indonesians as Hamdam Bin Salim, 34, Subande Satto, 27, and Sudarlan Samansung, 41.

The hostages were brought to a military hospital and turned over to the Indonesian who was to accompany them to the Philippine capital Manila, a military statement said.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding 11 hostages, including a Dutch bird-watcher abducted in 2012 and a Vietnamese captive, according to Besana.

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

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 18:00 IST