Abducted Aussie freed after 15 months

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/23 March) – The Abu Sayyaf Group released before dawn Saturday an Australian national they kidnapped 15 months ago in Zamboanga Sibugay province, officials said.

Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, Western Mindanao police spokesman, said that Warren Richard Rodwell was freed at around 1:10 a.m. Saturday at the Pagadian City fish port complex.

A civilian named Nathaniel Tampos, who saw Rodwell at the port area, brought the foreigner to the 903rd Maritime Police Station headed by Supt. Eurem Jay Macasil, who in turn handed over the Australian to Pagadian City police station commander Supt. Julius Muñez for safe keeping and documentation, Huesca said.

Rodwell was fetched by Air Force helicopters and brought to Camp Basilio Navarro in this city, the headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command.

Basilan Vice Gov. Alrasheed Sakkalahul said that he got a call from ASG leader Puruji Indama at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, telling him that Rodwell was freed by his captors at the Pagadian fisheries building in Pagadian City.

Rodwell’s Filipina wife, Miraflor Gutang, sought the assistance of Sakkalahul for the safe release of her husband three weeks ago.

Indama is a Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader.

Both Huesca and Sakkalahul did not say whether ransom was paid in exchange for the release of Rodwell.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits have originally demanded $2 million in exchange for Rodwell’s freedom.

Sakkalahul also could not say if there was a “board and lodging” payment, since it was Rodwell’s family who directly negotiated with the kidnappers.

Rodwell, 54, was seized by gunmen on December 5, 2011 from his house in Ipil, the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay. (MindaNews)