Two Filipino-Algerian documentary filmmakers, kidnapped by an armed group in the strife-torn southern Philippines, have been recovered by authorities after eight months in captivity, a military statement said.
Jolo marine commander Brigadier General Jose Cenabre said late on Thursday that the kidnappers decided to free them amid heightened military activity to locate them.
Despite her ordeal, Nadjoua Bansil said she and her younger sister Linda would return to making movies about marginalised communities.
“We will rest for a while but we will continue in our independent filmmaking,” she told reporters in the southern city of Zamboanga where they were taken after their recovery in Jolo.
The two women were recovered on the island of Jolo as authorities were conducting a search for them, the military said.
Elder brother of the sisters, Mohammed Bansil, also thanked those who helped in securing the release of his siblings.
However, both the military and brother declined to say whether a ransom had been paid for the two.
“Whatever you think about the ransom we cannot answer that. Suffice to say that we safely recovered the victims,” said the local military chief, Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero.
Nadjoua and her sister were seized by members of the Abu Sayyaf group on June 22 while working on a film about the impoverished residents of the heavily-forested island of Jolo.
Relatives had appealed for their release saying they were daughters of a deceased sharia court judge.
The Abu Sayyaf group was founded with money from Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. It has been blamed for the worst attacks in Philippine history as well as many kidnappings of foreigners and Filipinos, often demanding hefty ransoms.
Other Abu Sayyaf factions are believed to be holding other hostages, including two European bird watchers.
Despite the military’s efforts, the group has remained active and on Sunday, a Filipino engineer and his wife were kidnapped in Jolo by suspected Abu Sayyaf members.