Islamist militants freed three Indonesian fishermen held captive for two months in the southern Philippines, the military said Sunday.
The Indonesian hostages were freed on Saturday just hours after the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf freed Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, said Major Filemon Tan, a regional military spokesman.
The three Indonesians, aged 34 to 46, were released to Muslim leader Nur Misuari on the island of Jolo, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.
Abu Sayyaf seized the Indonesians on July 9.
The three Indonesians and Sekkingstad were turned over to government officials on Sunday and brought to nearby Zamboanga City, Tan said.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ramie told local media that a total ransom of 60 million pesos (1.27 million dollars) was paid for the release of the four hostages.
But Tan noted that the release was “an offshoot of the ongoing military operations to sustain pressure against the Abu Sayyaf” and assistance from Misuari’s group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The MNLF signed a peace deal with the government in 1996. It is a separate group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014.
Sekkingstad was abducted with two Canadians and a Filipino from the southern resort island of Samal on September 21 last year by the Abu Sayyaf militants.
The kidnappers beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel on April 25 and Robert Hall on June 13 after ransom was not paid before a deadline they set. Filipino Marites Flor was released.
Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in the Philippines, is still holding captive eight Malaysians, five Indonesians, a Dutchman and several Filipinos.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the military to crush Abu Sayyaf and also warned that the group could be a source of recruitment for the Islamic State extremist group.