Manila, June 8 (IANS) The Philippines-based terror group Abu Sayyaf has released four abducted Malaysian sailors in the island of Borneo, officials said on Wednesday.
The four, abducted on April 1, were freed after several rounds of talks between Malaysian and Filipino negotiators on the island of Jolo, a stronghold of the terrorist group, and reached the city of Sandakan in Sabah on Wednesday morning, Efe reported.
The rebels had demanded a ransom of $4 million to free the hostages, all crew members of a tugboat, which was seized while returning to Malaysia after leaving the Philippine waters.
On May 1, the rebel group freed 10 Indonesian sailors they abducted in March in exchange for $1 million, and 10 days later released another four Indonesian sailors captured in April, for the same ransom amount.
The group, which beheaded a Canadian hostage on April 25 after the deadline for ransom expired, is still holding a Japanese, a Dutchman, a Norwegian, a Canadian and his Philippine girlfriend.
In May, the group had threatened to decapitate either Norway’s Kjartan Sekkingstad or Canada’s Robert Hall on June 13 if they were not paid $6 million.