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Australian held for months in Philippines freed

Rodwel was abducted from his residence in December 2012

Image Credit: AP
In this photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WESTMINCOM), Australian hostage Warren Richard Rodwell, center, arrives at the Command's headquarters in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines following his release early Saturday March 23, 2013.
Gulf News

Manila: An Australian national kidnapped from his residence in Ipil town, Zamboanga, on December 5, 2012, was freed by his captors late on Thursday.

Warren Rodwel, 53, was brought to the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), spokesman Col Rodrigo Gregorio said on Friday.

He did not give details about where he was initially released, to whom he was turned over or if ransom was paid.

Earlier, kidnappers had sent photos of Rodwell to his Filipina wife as proof that he was alive. They had demanded a 1 million peso (Dh83,333) ransom.

Local government officials in the south and Australian Embassy officials in Manila did not release statements regarding Rodwell’s release.

Earlier, members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has been holding peace talks with the Philippines Government since 1997, helped government security forces in the search for Rodwell.

A faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group, which has links with Al Qaida, was behind Rodwell’s kidnapping, the MILF said.

The Abu Sayyaf Group reportedly brought Rodwell to Basilan, following his kidnapping in Ipil, where he was staying with his Filipina wife for eight months before he was kidnapped, other sources said.

Australia applauds Philippines

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Saturday welcomed Rodwell's release, congratulating the Philippines on its handling of the case.

"The Philippines government had the lead role in this case and deserve congratulations for their tireless efforts on Mr Rodwell's behalf," Carr said in a statement.

"I'm advised Mr Rodwell is now in the company of Philippines authorities, our deputy ambassador Andrew Byrne and a representative of the Australian Defence Force and will be moved to a safe location," Carr said.

Carr said all Australians would be wishing Rodwell, who is aged in his 50s, well as he recovers from his 15 months in captivity.

"This is great news for Mr Rodwell and his family," Carr said. "The Rodwell family has shown enormous courage throughout this ordeal. The focus now is on Mr Rodwell's speedy recovery."

With input from agencies