Kjartan Sekkingstad safe in the Philippines

‘It is with satisfaction and relief that I can confirm Kjartan Sekkingstad has now been taken to safety in the Philippines after he was released yesterday. This has been a challenging case and an extraordinary strain on Sekkingstad himself and his family and friends,’ saidNorwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian, was abducted along with two citizens of Canada and one citizen of the Philippines on the island of Samal in the southern Philippines on 21 September 2015. The extreme Islamist group Abu Sayyaf was behind the abduction and has since killed the two Canadian hostages, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and released Marites Flor.

Norwegian efforts to obtain Sekkingstad’s release were led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister Børge Brende in close cooperation with the Norwegian police and the embassy in Manila.

‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the police and the embassy in Manila have put a great deal of effort into this matter,’ Prime Minister Solberg said. ‘Cooperation between all the relevant authorities in Norway and the Philippines and with international partners has been close and effective. I want to thank everyone who has assisted and providedimportant expertise, both in resolving the case and in supporting the families.’

She added: ‘I would like to extend special thanks to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Jesus Dureza, for their commitment to resolving the situation.’

‘It is important to remember that two Canadian nationals were killed in this hostage action. The violence committed against innocent people by the terrorist organisation Abu Sayyaf can only be met with our condemnation and disgust. Our thoughts and sympathies therefore go out today to all the victims of terrorism in the Philippines. We support the Philippines in its struggle against terrorism and for peaceful progress in the south,’ Prime Minister Solberg said.