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.
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.