indonesia sailors, brod.jpg
Photograph: EPA/STR

One of 10 Indonesian sailors released after being held hostage by the Philippine Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf for more than a month said his captors had threatened to kill the hostages.

The sailors were released on Sunday after being abducted on March 26 between the Philippine provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi while travelling on a boat carrying 7,000 tons of coal from Indonesia. 

"We were stressed because they often threatened to slit our throats," one of the freed hostages, Julian Philip, a first officer with the tugboat, said at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, where the sailors met their families.

But Philip said the hostages were not hurt.

The crew landed in Jakarta at midnight on a private plane and were immediately taken to an army hospital in Jakarta for medical examinations.

Wawan Saputra, a helmsman, said the hostages were well fed. 

"Whatever they ate, we ate," he said. "We ate mangoes and rice." 

The Indonesian crew was freed days after Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded a Canadian hostage held captive since September last year.

Another four Indonesians are still being held by the group, and the Indonesian government said efforts are under way to secure their release.

Indonesian officials have denied any ransom was paid to the abductors. The company that employs the sailors earlier announced it agreed to pay 50 million pesos (1.1 million dollars) in ransom.

"The release was purely the result of a negotiation and no money as demanded by Abu Sayyaf," National Democratic Party legislator Viktor B Laiskodat, who said his party was involved in the negotiation, was quoted as saying by Tribunnews.com.

The party, a member of the ruling coalition, is led by media mogul Surya Paloh, whose private plane was used to transport the sailors from the Philippines to Indonesia, local media reported.

Abu Sayyaf militants are believed to be holding several captives in the jungles of Jolo, including Canadian, Norwegian, Filipino and Dutch nationals, as well as four Malaysian sailors.

The militants have been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Philippines, as well as high-profile kidnappings of foreigners.

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