Kjartan Sekkingstad was released by the Philippine Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, Saturday, after nearly a year in captivity.
On Sunday Sekkingstad and the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte met the press.
Sekkingstad told the press:
- I express my great appreciation to the President and his leading men who helped me out of captivity. The Norwegian Embassy, and my Philippine and Norwegian families, said Sekkingstad.
Sekkingstad suffered horrible things during the past year.
- In one of the clashes, in which Philippine forces opened fire from helicopters and ground troops, I felt a blow in the back and thought I was hit. Afterwards I saw that I was not hit, but that my backpack was full of holes from bullets, says Sekkingstad.
The Norwegian carried the backpack when he was handed over to MNLF, which has a peace agreement with the Philippine authorities.
- Terrible, terrible, says Sekkingstad when asked how he would describe his captivity.
Sekkingstad said he and the other hostages were forced to carry the captors assets. They were given no information about the outside world. At one time there were more than 300 guards.
- We were treated like slaves, says the Norwegian.
After the Islamists beheaded the Canadian John Ridsel in April, his captors often threatened him that he would be the next victim.
- I'm lucky to come from it alive, said Sekkingstad to local media on the island of Jolo before he was flown to Davao.
The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is pleased that Sekkingstad now is released.
- This is a happy day, particularly for the family, but also for everyone who has worked intensively on this issue for a long time.
The Prime Minister points out that Norway has not paid any ransom for Sekkingstad.
- Norway has not approved any handover of ransom for the release of Kjartan Sekkingstad, says Solberg to NTB, adding:
- Should Norwegian authorities start doing so, then it would be a security risk for Norwegians who are in difficult areas of the world. Kidnapping is a way to finance terrorist activities.
President Duterte recently warned the Islamist group, which is associated with ISIS: “They will pay. When the time comes, I will eat you in front of people. “If you make me mad, in all honesty, I will eat you alive, raw,” he said.
Duterte to ISIS: - I will eat you alive, raw.
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