Abu Sayyaf ready to negotiate with Manila for German hostages
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The Abu Sayyaf rebel group said Wednesday it is open to negotiating with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario for the release of two German hostages.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami said in an interview with a local radio station that they are willing to allow Del Rosario to serve as mediator to meet their demands, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We would like to talk to the Foreign Affairs chief because his agency is not corrupt. We would reiterate to him our demands,” Rami said.
Rami said they would not impose a deadline if talks would focus on meeting the group’s demands for the hostages’ release a ransom of P250 million and a halt to the government’s campaign against Islamic State militants.
The group had threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were not met by Oct 17.
One of the hostages, Stefan Viktor Okonek, said in a separate interview that he was taken by his captors to a three-meter by five-meter pit supposedly for his execution.
“(The Abu Sayyaf) told me this is my grave,” said Okonek.
Okonek said he was separated from his wife, Henrike Dielen, on Monday.
The couple has been in captivity since April after being abducted from militants from their yacht off the western Philippine province of Palawan.
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