Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Philippine rebels release abducted S Korean captain

FIRE AT WILL:Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last month told the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia they could bomb Philippine militants and their victims

AP, JOLO, Philippines

Jesus Dureza, adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on dealing with insurgents, second right, South Korean captain Park Chul-hong, left, and Philippine second officer Glenn Alindajao, second left, arrive in Davao, Philippines, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Ransom-seeking Muslim militants in the southern Philippines yesterday freed a South Korean captain and his Filipino crewman who were abducted three months ago from their cargo ship amid a wave of offshore kidnappings, officials said.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen handed skipper Park Chul-hong and Glenn Alindajao over to Moro National Liberation Front rebels, who turned them over to Philippine officials in Jolo in predominantly Muslim southern Sulu province.

The Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a 1996 peace deal with the government, has helped negotiate the release of several hostages of the smaller, but more violent Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.

The freed hostages appeared well, but were not immediately allowed to speak to reporters. Park wore a scarf that partly covered his face.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser on dealing with insurgents, Jesus Dureza, flew with the two on board a jet from Jolo to Davao, the president’s hometown. The two are later to be flown to Manila.

Dureza said he was not aware of any ransom being paid in exchange for the freedom of the sailors.

At least 27 hostages, many of them foreign crewmen, remain in the hands of different Abu Sayyaf factions, he said.

However, there has been persistent speculation that most of the freed hostages have been ransomed off.

Without a known foreign source of funds, Abu Sayyaf has survived mostly on ransom kidnappings, extortion and other acts of banditry.

A confidential Philippine government threat assessment report seen by reporters last year said the militants pocketed at least 353 million pesos (US$7.1 million at the current exchange rate) from ransom kidnappings in the first six months of last year.

About 10 gunmen snatched Park and Alindajao from the MV Dongbang Giant in October last year, using ropes from a speedboat to clamber up the cargo ship off Bongao in Tawi Tawi province, near Jolo.

The cargo ship was on its way to South Korea from Australia, Philippine officials said.

The militants have mostly targeted slow-moving tugboats in the busy sea bordering the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Last month, Duterte said he told his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts that their forces can bomb fleeing Philippine militants and their kidnap victims at sea, because the hostages “are not supposed to be there.”

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