Canadians Robert Hall (left) and John Ridsdel (centre) were beheaded earlier this year. The third  hostage, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, was freed by the Abu Sayyaf on September 17.

Norwegian freed by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines describes ordeal with dead Canadian hostages

  • Page Views 1123
  • A Norwegian man freed after almost a year in captivity by the Abu Sayyaf terror group in the Philippines says the experience was “devastating”.

    Kjartan Sekkingstad said that he and his fellow captives, two of whom were Canadians who were subsequently beheaded, were treated like slaves.

    Sekkingstad was freed on September 17. He was one of four captives seized by the extremist gang at a resort he ran on Samal Island in September 2015.

    Sekkingstad said that he was regularly threatened with execution.

    Two of his fellow captives, Canadians John Ridsel and Robert Hall, were beheaded earlier this year. A Philippine woman, Marites Flor, was freed in June.

    “I am very happy to be alive and free,” Mr. Sekkingstad told reporters following a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte and Norwegian Embassy officials in Davao City, the president’s hometown. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

    When he arrived in Davao City, the Norwegian was heavily bearded and wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a backpack that he said had stopped a bullet and saved his life during a clash between troops and militants. He was clean-shaven and wearing fresh clothes when he met the president.

    Sekkingstad told reporters upon arriving in Davao City that the Abu Sayyaf militants had forced him and the other captives to act as porters.

    He said that after the beheadings began he was told constantly that he would be executed, and survived several clashes between the militants and Philippine troops.

    “We were treated like slaves,’’ he said, describing the captivity as “devastating.”

    The two Canadians were killed after Canada’s government refused to pay millions of dollars in ransom to the militants, who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State and have earlier links to al Qaeda and have carried out bombings, assassinations and kidnappings for ransom, often ending in murder.

    Duterte said recently that 50 million pesos ($1.1 million) had been paid to Abu Sayyaf as ransom for Sekkingstad. Subsequently, the president said that the group wanted even more money. He didn’t elaborate on the source of the payments or how they were made.

     

    Sekkingstad was released September 17 in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, a predominantly Muslim and impoverished island south of Manila, but had to stay there overnight because of bad weather. He was expected to fly to Manila later on September 18. It was unclear if and when he will return to Norway.

    Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that three Indonesian fishermen who had been kidnapped recently by Abu Sayyaf were released September 18. He said he was “unaware if any ransom has been paid.” The Indonesians were flown to the military’s regional command center in western Mindanao island and handed over to Indonesian authorities.

    Abu Sayyaf is believed to still hold 11 foreigners and six Filipinos captive, the military said. The group is believed to have about 400 members.

    Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg welcomed the release of Sekkingstad and thanked Duterte and presidential peace adviser Jose Dureza, who negotiated the release, for working to free him.

    “This has been a challenging case, and has put an indescribable strain on Mr. Sekkingstad himself and his family and friends,” Solberg said September 18. “The violence committed against innocent people by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization can only be met by our condemnation and disgust.”

    Abu Sayyaf has come under recent pressure from the Philippine armed forces as Duterte ordered a new offensive against them. The group responded with a deadly bomb attack September 2 in Davao City that killed 15 people and injured dozens more.

    Sekkingstad was handed over by his Abu Sayyaf captors to rebels from the larger Moro National Liberation Front, which has signed a peace deal with the Philippine government and helped negotiate his release. On September 18, he was handed over to Philippine authorities, along with three Indonesian fishermen freed separately by the Abu Sayyaf.

    Sekkingstad said he survived more than a dozen clashes between Philippine forces and his captors in the lush jungles of Sulu province.

    Sekkingstad was kidnapped from a yacht club he helped managed on southern Samal Island on September 21, 2015, along with Canadians Ridsdel and Hall and Hall’s Filipino girlfriend, Marites Flor.

    Ridsdel was beheaded in April, and Hall was decapitated in June after ransom deadlines lapsed. When Flor was freed in June, she recounted in horror how the militants rejoiced while watching the beheadings.

    Share

    New Posts Recently publish post More

    • Alden_Bday2
      20 January 2017
      12 hours ago No comment

      Fans surprise Alden Richards with a birthday bash

      Apart from the birthday celebrations set for the Philippines’ Pambansang Bae Alden Richards, his ever-loyal fans collectively known as the Aldenatics surprised him with a lavish party last January 15 at the Solaire Resort Grand Ballroom in Pasay City. Alden, who always makes time for his supporters, returned to ...

    • Marian Rivera (1)
      20 January 2017
      15 hours ago No comment

      Marian Rivera thanks fans around the world for reaching 3 million Instagram followers

      Kapuso Primetime Queen Marian Rivera-Dantes posted a thank you message for her Instagram followers, which has now reached a whopping 3.3 million. The multi-talented actress and doting mother gained even more followers in her account (@therealmarian) when she started posting photos of her and daughter Maria Letizia wearing matching ...

    • duterte-pope-francis
      20 January 2017
      18 hours ago No comment

      Pope Francis blesses Philippines, Duterte

      Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte, months after the firebrand leader apologized for a misunderstanding when he reportedly cursed the head of the Roman Catholic Church for causing heavy traffic during his papal visit to the country in January 2015. Duterte later clarified that ...

    • alex-bornilla
      18 January 2017
      2 days ago No comment

      Filipino named best McDonald’s restaurant manager in Canada

      A Filipino in Yellowknife has been selected as the best manager of a McDonald’s restaurant in Canada, CBC reported on January 16. According to CBC, Alex Bornilla received the distinction back in October last year. “I wouldn’t say I’m the best manager, but I surround myself with a great ...

    • Sangley-Airport
      18 January 2017
      2 days ago No comment

      Bidders vie for Sangley project

      Eleven companies have expressed interest to bid for the P552.8-million rehabilitation and repair of Sangley Airport in Cavite in preparation for the transfer of general aviation operation from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The 11 companies which were represented at a pre-bid conference held by the Department of Transportation ...

    %d bloggers like this: