x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Abu Sayyaf militants free Australian Warren Rodwell after 15 months of capitivity

Australia's foreign minister Bob Carr welcomes the news, saying Warren Richard Rodwell will be soon moved to a safe location.

MANILA // Al Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippinestoday released an emaciated-looking Australian man near a coastal town where they kidnapped him for ransom 15 months ago.

Warren Richard Rodwell was brought to police by residents of Pagadian city who saw him walking before dawn near the fishing port, where his abductors dropped him off, said Julius Munez, the city police chief.

Mr Rodwell "looked OK, just tired. But he looked like he lost a lot of weight", Mr Munez said.

In Australia, the foreign minister, Bob Carr, welcomed the news, saying Mr Rodwell will be soon moved to a safe location. Mr Carr said the release was a joint effort by authorities in both countries, and that the focus now was on Mr Rodwell's speedy recovery.

Mr Rodwell, a former Australian soldier who was married to a Filipino woman and had settled down in the southern Philippines, was kidnapped in December 2011 from his seashore house and taken by speedboat to nearby mountainous islands where Abu Sayyaf militants are hiding.

He had since appeared in several proof-of-life videos posted by the militants as negotiations for his release dragged on. His jungle captivity appeared to have taken a toll on his health as he appeared weaker in each video.

He was one of several foreigners abducted by Abu Sayyaf in the region. Two Europeans are still being held along with a Japanese man.

* Associated Press