Philippines: Abu Sayyaf Frees Norwegian Captive Kjartan Sekkingstad

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Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad Finally Freed!

Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group in the Philippines, released Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad after holding him for almost a year.

CNN says the militant group freed Kjartan Sekkingstad at 4 p.m. (4 a.m. ET) with the assistance of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), an Islamic separatist organization based in the southern Philippines.

This report was confirmed by the Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr.

Simultaneous land, air, naval and police operations complemented each other putting pressure on (Abu Sayyaf),” Tan said.

Sekkingstad was one of four tourists who were kidnapped by the armed group in Samal Island, Davao del Norte in September 2015. The bandits also kidnapped Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Filipino Maritess Flor.

Kjartan Sekkingstad spoke to the public after being freed by Abu Sayyaf.
Kjartan Sekkingstad spoke to the public after being freed by Abu Sayyaf.

Ransom Speculation

There is speculation that Sekkingstad’s family paid P30 million in ransom in exchange for the release of the victim.

Some reports surfaced that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Commander Tahil Sali negotiated release of Sekkingstad for whom the bandits earlier were demanding P300 million for ransom.

Local reports say the MNLF brought Sekkingstad to the residence of Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II about 5 a.m. Saturday.

The Kidnapping and The Beheadings

Sekkingstad was kidnapped from a resort on Samal Island located at the southern island of Mindanao, on September 21, 2015.

The Norwegian resort manager was abducted together with three people: Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Filipina Tess Flor. The three captives were guests of the resort when the kidnapping incident happened. Out of the four captives, two foreigners were beheaded.

The militant group demanded a $6.3 million ransom for each of the victims to be paid by April 25. But when no ransom money was paid, Abu Sayyaf beheaded Canadian hostage Ridsdel.

In June this year, the militant group beheaded the other Canadian, Robert Hall.

Filipina Tess Flor was released on June 24.

Background of Abu Sayyaf

The militant group has made headlines for its violent onslaught of terror in the southern part of the Philippines.

The group became prominent for launching deadly bombings across the southern Philippines and in the Malaysian state of Sabah in the 1990s.

Campaigns against terrorism have weakened the group. In recent years, the bandits resorted to kidnapping and beheading of foreigners who were held captive.

The violent extremist group split from established Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.