ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Abu Sayyaf Group has released an eight-year-girl after three months in captivity in the southern province of Sulu, police said on Thursday.
Police Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita said the victim, who was seized from a store in her hometown Olutanga in Zam-boanga Sibugay on July 25, was freed in the town of Jolo on Wednesday afternoon.
Citing a police intelligence report, Orbita said the girl was handed over to her brother and father, who paid a still undetermined amount of ransom to a woman wearing niqab at the port of Jolo. The negotiation was conducted by the victim’s family.
Orbita said the trio then went to the house of a relative who is a policeman where they briefly stayed before heading to Zam-boanga City on a ferry.
No other details were made available by the police.
The girl, whose family operates a small restaurant in Olutanga town, was reunited with her parents. She was seized by five armed men and brought to Sulu where she had been kept since then.
The release of the girl came two weeks after Abu Sayyaf members released German Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, in exchange for a P250 million ransom.
The Germans were heading to Sabah in Malaysia on a private yacht after a vacation in Palawan province when they were spotted and seized by Abu Sayyaf members who were returning to Mindanao from a failed kidnapping in Sabah on April 25.
Another Abu Sayyaf faction is holding Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, and a Filipino worker who were seized from a fish farm in the town of Kunak in Tawau District in Sabah on June this year. The militants are demanding 3 million ringgits (P41 million) for the safe release of the fish breeder.
The rebels also seized Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, on June 12 following a clash in Sabah that killed another policeman. The militants are demanding 5 million ringgits (P68.3 million).
The Abu Sayyaf’s other hostages are 64-year-old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from The Netherlands and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were snatched in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi province in 2012; and several Filipinos kidnapped in other provinces and brought to Sulu.
The military said the rebels are hiding in civilian communities and have moved their hostages from one hideout to another making it extremely difficult for security forces to track them down.