10:46 am - Wednesday December 19, 2018

Philippine militants free 2 kidnapped Germans

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Two Germans freed after six months of captivity in the southern Philippines by a militant group that threatened to behead one of them if ransom was not paid were flown to Manila on Saturday under the care of their embassy, a Philippine military spokesman said.

Following their release on Friday, Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen were flown to Manila under arrangements made by the German Embassy, said Major General Domingo Tutaan.

Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed their released late Friday, just hours after the Abu Sayyaf militant group had threatened to behead Mr. Okonek.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami told radio station DXRZ in southern Zamboanga City that his group received $5.6 million in ransom. He did not say who paid it.

A military official said that Mr. Okonek appeared to have been beaten up by his captors because he had a black eye. In a video earlier released by the Abu Sayyaf, he was shown being roughed up and slapped.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen seized Mr. Okonek and Mr. Dielen from a yacht in April between Malaysia’s Sabah state on Borneo Island and the western Philippine province of Palawan. They were taken by boat to Sulu province, about 950 kilometres south of Manila, where militants are holding other hostages.

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