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21 February 2024

Militants free Filipinos seized with Jordanian journalist

Roland Letriro (L), and Ramel Vela, Filipino members of a Jordanian TV journalist's crew believed to have been kidnapped by Al Qaida-linked militants in June, recuperate in a hospital Sunday ,Feb 3, 2013 after being freed the night before on the volatile island of Jolo, in southern Philippines. (AP)


Abu Sayyaf militants have freed two Filipino television crew members seized along with a Jordanian journalist nearly eight months ago in the southern Philippines, police said Sunday.

Hostages Buboy Letriro and Ramil Vela walked free Saturday evening on southern Jolo island, where Abu Sayyaf militants had held them since June last year, regional police chief Noel delos Reyes told AFP.

Delos Reyes said there was "no word" on the fate or exact whereabouts of the Jordanian journalist, Bakr Atyani, of the Dubai-based Al Arabiya network.

"Shortly after they were freed they called their families from a hotel room in Jolo," delos Reyes said. "They were then taken by authorities to the provincial hospital to be checked up."

Delos Reyes said the exact circumstances of how the two were freed remained unclear, but denied that a r ansom had been paid.

The two travelled with Atyani to Jolo island in June of last year, but went missing a day after they arrived.

Police on Jolo said the three had been held by the Abu Sayyaf, a gang of self-styled militants blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks as well as other kidnappings of foreigners.

US special forces have been rotating in the southern Philippine for over a decade to train local troops in crushing the Al Qaeda-linked group which is on Washington's list of wanted foreign terrorist organisations.