Indian kidnapped in Philippines escapes, to return home (Lead)

August 10th, 2012 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The government Friday said an Indian from Kerala, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Philippines in June 2011 and was believed to have been killed, has escaped from his captors.

Biju Kolara Veetil, an Indian national, is now with the police in the Sulu province of the Philippines, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said here.

“Indian officials are in touch with him and the local authorities so as to facilitate his early return to India,” he said.

Veetil was found on the streets of Patikul town, according to Antonio Freyra, police chief of Sulu province. Earlier, Freyera had told reporters that Veetil had been killed by the militant group.

However, Veetil’s wife Elena had maintained that her husband was safe in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf Group. Veetil’s relatives had approached the external affairs ministry and Defence Minister A.K. Antony seeking their intervention.

It is not clear if any ransom was paid. The kidnappers had demanded about 300,000 pesos ($7,100) in ransom, but his family refused to pay.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, one of the most violent Islamic separatist groups in the southern Philippines, has been pitching for an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines.

The group is known for kidnapping foreign nationals and demanding heavy ransom for them.

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