THREE Indonesians held hostage by Abu Sayyaf rebels saw the end of their three-month ordeal after their release on Sunday.
The Philippines’ Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, confirmed that the hostages were released in Sulu before noon.
They were handed over to Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a Muslim rebel group that has signed a peace deal with the Philippine government, who in turn passed the captives to Sulu Governor Totoh Tan.
However, it was not clear whether any ransom was paid.
“Chairman Misuari personally called me and informed me about another breakthrough in the efforts to recover hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf group. I coordinated with Gen. dela Vega of Task Force Sulu to facilitate smooth turnover,” said Dureza in a statement, as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“In the same phone call, Tan confirmed that he had physical custody of the three Indonesians and he will turn over their custody to the local Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headed by Gen. dela Vega,” he added.
With the release of the Indonesians, the terrorist group, which has links to Islamic State, has let go of nine hostages over the past two weeks, including two Filipinos and a Norwegian man.
Five Malaysians, four Filipinos, two Indonesians, and a Dutch national remain in their custody.
Since coming into office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has stepped up efforts to flush out the rebels from their strongholds on the islands of Sulu and Basilan.
“These recent breakthroughs were a convergence of efforts that President Duterte initiated, getting the cooperation of the MNLF, the local governments, the stakeholders and the AFP through their ongoing military operations in the area,” continued Dureza.
Dureza added that the Indonesians were identified by Tan as Edi Suryono, Ferry Arifin, and Muhamad Mabrur Dahri.