Freed hostage returns to Norway after "year of terror" in Philippines

A Norwegian man held hostage during "a year of terror" by Islamist militants in the southern Philippines arrived Friday in his native country.

"Now I just want to look ahead, but also honour the two friends who didn't make it alive," Kjartan Sekkingstad told reporters at Oslo's Gardermoen airport.

Sekkingstad was abducted on September 21, 2015, with three others from the southern resort island of Samal, where he worked.

Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall were beheaded after their ransoms were not paid in time. Hall's Filipina fiance, Marites Flor, was released in June.

Sekkingstad, who was freed Saturday, said the kidnappers from terrorist group Abu Sayyaf "deliberately lied" to the hostages about their pending release, and often threatened to kill them.

The group moved continuously on the island of Jolo as the kidnappers sought to avoid detection by security forces. The hostages, he said, were given little food and handcuffed in pairs at night.

One way of trying to keep up morale was "to take joy in little things, 'perhaps I will be given more rice or a little biscuit'," he recalled.

Conditions improved after the June election of Rodrigo Duterte as president.

Sekkingstad said he did not know how his release was negotiated or if ransom had been paid, thanking all who helped secure his freedom.

Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in the Philippines, is still holding a number of foreigners and several Filipinos.

Last update: Fri, 23/09/2016 - 13:10
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