MANILA (Reuters) - Al Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippines have freed a Malaysian-Chinese man they had kidnapped seven months ago, a military spokeswoman said on Thursday, after negotiations with community leaders.
Islamist Abu Sayyaf militants released the man, a trader working for a Malaysian fishing company, near the town of Indanan on the southern Philippine island of Jolo on Tuesday but no ransom had been paid, the spokeswoman said.
He had been kidnapped at gunpoint, along with a Filipino worker, in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island in May and taken to Jolo.
“We were informed the kidnap victim was freed and took a speed boat to Sabah,” spokeswoman Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela said in a text message to reporters. She said the military had played no part in the negotiations.
In May, Chinese consular officials in Malaysia identified the man as a trader from the southern Chinese province of Guizhou. Malaysian newspaper The Star identified him as the manager of a Sabah fish farm.
Abu Sayyaf is known for kidnapping, beheading victims and bombings in the southern Philippines. The United States has labeled it as a terrorist organization.
The small but violent group is still holding as captives a Dutch wildlife photographer, a Japanese treasure hunter, and a Malaysian police officer in their jungle hideouts.
The Philippine military also said a teenage Filipino student taken by Abu Sayyaf had escaped and was found on Tuesday.
Ibrahim Patrasa, 16, escaped in Indanan nine hours after he was abducted outside his school on Jolo, said Colonel Allan Arrojado, commander of ground forces on the island.
“Our troops had ran into him while on patrol in the area,” he said. “We recovered a rifle and a handgun near the area where we found the boy.”
Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Paul Tait