Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo greets rescued American hostage Jeffrey Schilling during their meeting at the Presidential guest house in Baguio city, northern Philippines Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

An American who had been held captive by Abu Sayyaf rebels for nearly eight months was set free but there was confusion as to whether his freedom came as a result of government negotiations, or the use of force. Jeffrey Schilling, who was kidnapped in August 2000, is a free man. One source said Schilling was released following high-level negotiations between local government officials in Jolo and representatives of the Abu Sayyaf group. The source claimed Schilling was handed over by the group but none of the group’s infamous leaders was arrested. However, Brig-Gen Romeo Dominguez, who heads the military task force against the Abu Sayyaf, said Schilling was rescued following a successful military raid on the Abu Sayyaf camp in Luuk town, 55km south-west of Jolo. A fter two hours of fighting, Schilling was abandoned by his captors, headed by Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya. He was seen walking alone in the mountains of the picturesque town of Luuk, said Dominguez.

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