MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Eight months after they were abducted in Sulu by armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), siblings Nadjoua and Linda Bansil are finally free.
Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac confirmed the news to Rappler.
The Bansil sisters “escaped” from their kidnappers Thursday afternoon, February 20, Sindac said in a text message. They were found in sitio Kantatang Buhanginan in Patikul, Sulu, by the Marines, he added, quoting a police report sent to him.
Rappler sources privy to what happened however said the ASG unit that kept the sisters in custody was forced to free them after a series of military operations in the area.
“At around 4:50 pm Thursday, they were recovered by the Marines in Patikul,” the sources added. The Marines and the Bansil sisters reached Jolo, the capital, past 9 pm, the same sources added.
They arrived at the residence of Sulu Governor Sakur Tan at 9:30 pm, the same sources added.
They are set to hold a press conference in Zamboanga City Friday morning, February 21.
Watch this report below.
Film on coffee growers
The Bansil sisters were working on an independent film about coffee growers in Mindanao when they were kidnapped by armed men on June 22, 2013. (Read: Mohammed’s sisters)
Classified documents obtained and verified by Rappler showed the kidnappers were demanding P50 million (or about US$1.2 million) in ransom for the sisters.
The ransom demand was reportedly made to their mother, who is Algerian-Moroccan. Meanwhile, the sisters’ father, Abdulbassit Bansil, is a Muslim cleric — a close associate of the founding leaders of the Philippines’ two largest armed Muslim movements – the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
ASG has gained notoriety for abducting Filipinos and foreigners for ransom.
In March 2013, the group released Australian Warren Rodwell after holding him for 15 months. An undisclosed amount of ransom was paid for his release.
In December 2013, police found Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani walking along a road in Patikul after managing to escape from his captors.
Two European bird watchers are still held captive by other ASG factions. – with a report from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
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