Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Philippine militants free US woman, but not her son

AP, MANILA

Muslim militants freed a Filipino-American woman after two-and-a-half months in captivity in the southern Philippines, but are still holding her 14-year-old son and a relative, authorities said yesterday.

Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann was dropped off by boat late on Sunday at a wharf and walked to nearby Maluso township on southern Basilan Island, where a patrolling police team picked her up, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said. She was handed over to FBI agents in the Philippines.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants snatched the three on July 12 while they were vacationing with their relatives on an island near southern Zamboanga city. In a July 17 cellphone call to the captives’ relatives in Virginia that was traced to Basilan, the hostage-takers demanded a huge ransom, Philippine officials said.

It was not clear if any ransom was paid, but that has been the case in previous abductions.

“We thank God for this release,” Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat said, adding that Lunsmann was “a bit weak.”

The US embassy said in a statement that Lunsmann’s release “could not have occurred without the concerted efforts of Philippine government officials” and Lobregat’s personal engagement.

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