Four European Hostages Freed after Bloody Shoot-out
Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels freed on Saturday four European hostages held on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, a government negotiator said.
Frenchman Stephane Loisy, Finns Seppo Fraenti and Risto Vahanen and Marc Wallert of Germany would be plucked out of the Abu Sayyaf stronghold by helicopters and flown to nearby Zamboanga city where European government representatives would greet them, chief negotiator Roberto Aventajado said.
The release means that all the western tourists seized by the Abu Sayyaf from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan 20 weeks ago have now been freed.
Only Filipino dive instructor Roland Ullah remains of the original hostages taken from Sipadan.
The Abu Sayyaf gunmen turned over the four hostages to Aventajado's emissaries after a bloody shoot-out between factions of the rebel group, reportedly over ransom payments.
Sources said that according to an agreement struck with the Abu Sayyaf, the four would be freed on Saturday while the two French journalists would be released in about two days.
The French journalists, Jean-Jacques le Garrec, 46 and Roland Madura, 49, were seized while covering the hostage crisis in July.
Aside from the journalists, the Abu Sayyaf are holding one American and 16 Filipino hostages -- JOLO, Philippines (AFP)
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