By Aishwarya Rai, International News Writer
On September 17, Kjartan Sekkingstad was released from jungle captivity in the Sulu Province of the Philippines by Abu Sayyaff militants.
Mr. Sekkingstad, a Norweigian man, was held hostage along with two Canadians named John Risdel and Robert Hall, and Mr. Hall’s partner, Marites Flor, who is a Filipina national. Mr. Risdel and Mr. Hall were both killed a week apart in April after a ransom deadline had expired, and Ms. Flor was released earlier in June.
The four were abducted from a seaside resort last September. Since the beheadings in April, government forces in the Philippines had been launching attacks on the extremist group that relied on ransom money for their own funding.
Abu Sayyaf, which means, “bearer of the sword” in Arabic is “one of the smallest but most radical of Islamist separatist groups in the Southern Philippines,” as stated by BBC.
Many Filipinos and foreigners have fallen to the mercy of this extremist group, which has been known to abduct victims from parts of Malaysia. Some hostages have been released after either negotiations or attacks from Philippine forces; however, other cases have ended with murder if ransom demands were not met.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte conveyed in a news conference last month that 50 million pesos ($1 million) had been paid to the extremist group for ransom. Whether Mr. Sekkingstad’s release was paid off or due to pressure from Philippine military attacks is unknown, although the military claims that it was the latter.
Sekkingstad was secured by rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front, who signed a deal with the Philippine government and aided with negotiations for his release.
After his release, he recounted the events and mentioned many near death experiences when Philippine forces would launch attacks on the militants. According to BBC, Mr. Sekkingstad stated that the hostages “were treated like slaves.”
Abu Sayyaf is now blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist organization.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.
Contact Aishwarya at