Abu Sayyaf militants release two hostages in Philippines

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Roland Letriro, centre, and Ramel Vela, right, in hospital after their releaseImage source, AP
Image caption,
The two men had been held for eight months

Islamist militants in the Philippines have released two Filipino members of a TV crew, who were kidnapped last June.

Ramel Vela and Roland Letriro have been taken to a hospital in the southern Sulu province after their release. It is unclear why the Jordanian reporter they were working with was not freed.

The men were captured as they set out to interview Abu Sayyaf militants, a group linked to al-Qaeda.

A number of foreigners are being held for ransom in the southern Philippines.

Areas within Sulu province, whose capital is Jolo, and the wider region are used as bases by Islamist militants and rebel groups.

Mr Vela, a cameraman, and Mr Letriro, an audio technician, were taken hostage as they set out to interview Abu Sayyaf militants in their jungle lair in the autonomous Sulu island province.

"They really lost weight because they were constantly under stress each day," provincial police chief Antonio Freyra told the Associated Press.

A Jordanian reporter, Abdulla Atyani, captured along with Mr Vela and Mr Letriro, is believed to still be in captivity, Mr Freya said.

Meanwhile, Warren Rodwell, an Australian kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in 2011, was shown alive in a video posted on social media last December.

Looking thin and haggard in the video, Mr Rodwell said: "I personally hold no hope at all for being released."

The Abu Sayyaf is on the US list of terrorist organisations.

It is considered the smallest and most radical of the extremist movements in the southern Philippines.

The group remains a security threat in the impoverished region where minority Muslims have been fighting for self-rule for decades.

The main Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, recently signed a peace accord with the government in exchange for broad autonomy.

But the Abu Sayyaf were among the rebel groups who refused to sign up to the peace deal.