Nadjoua and Linda Bansil reportedly escaped from the hands of their abductors. (File photo by Charlie Saceda/Pecojon)
Two Algerian-Filipino women abducted by Abu Sayyaf fighters in the Philippines island province of Sulu eight months ago have escaped, authorities said on Friday.
Colonel Jojo Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade in Sulu, said the women took advantage of an ongoing military operation against the Islamist group to escape.
"Like what happened in previous instances, [the Abu Sayyaf] left their victims," Cenabre said.
Government troops found Nadjoua and Linda Bansil in Buhanginan village in Patikul town around 6pm yesterday.
Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to the al-Qaeda terror network, abducted the Bansil sisters on June 22 last year in Patikul town. The bandits initially demanded $67,000 for their release.
The women had traveled to the island to make a documentary about the lives of poor coffee farmers on Sulu.
The Bansil sisters were born in Algeria to an Algerian mother and a Filipino father but grew up in the Philippines, where they have produced several films in recent years.
Last September, the Abu Sayyaf abducted two Catholic Church workers in Basilan province. Frederick Banot, 24, and Cherden Masong, 25, who worked for the Claretian Missionary Fathers in Basilan, were freed 43 days later in Sulu province.
In 2000, the Abu Sayyaf killed Claretian priest Rhoel Gallardo at the end of a six week hostage crisis that involved four teachers and 22 students of the Church-run Claret School of Tumahubong town in Basilan province.
Abu Sayyaf militants, who are active in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan, continue to hold about a dozen hostages, including two European bird watchers who were kidnapped two years ago.
The US State Department has listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization.