Police say kidnapped American released in Basilan town

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Naturalized American Gerfa Yeatts-Lunsmann has been released by her kidnappers after three months in captivity, an official of the Philippine National Police said Monday.

Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, PNP director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said his personnel in Maluso town went to Sitio Suba Kampong in Barangay Townsite around 10 p.m. Sunday to verify a report that armed men were in the area.

The police team, led by Chief Inspector Dinar Hassan, instead found Lunsmann. She was immediately brought to the town’s police station.

At 2:10 a.m. Monday, Latag directed Hassan to coordinate with Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, head of the crisis management committee, who formally turned Lunsmann over to Jagdeep Khangura and Michael Paysan, both special agents of the FBI.

No information was yet available about Lunsmann’s son and nephew.

At least 14 gunmen seized the Philippine-born US citizen Lunsmann, her 14-year-old son Kevin Eric and 19-year-old nephew Romnick Jakaria on July 12 while they were vacationing at a relative’s house on Tigtabon Island near Zamboanga City.

Lunsmann, who lives in Campbell County in Virginia, had come to Tigtabon to make her son aware of her roots. She was raised on the nearby Pangapuyan Island but was adopted by an American couple when she was 9.

In September, Lobregat announced that low-key negotiations aimed at securing the release of Lunsmann and her son had kicked off after authorities granted the request of Lunsmann’s husband, Hiko, to allow the family to handle the situation.

Originally posted at 03:44 am | Monday, Oct. 3, 2011

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