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Philippines Kidnap Gang Releases Australian Hostage

U.S. military servicemen assist freed Australian national Warren Richard Rodwell after he gets off a helicopter inside a military camp in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, March 23, 2013, in this picture provided by the Western Mindanao Command of the
Authorities in the southern Philippines say an al-Qaida-linked kidnap gang has released an Australian hostage who had been held for 15 months.

Warren Rodwell, a former Australian soldier, was released before dawn Saturday near Pagadian city on Mindanao Island. He was kidnapped by Muslim Abu Sayyaf militants in December of 2011 from his home west of Pagadian, where he lived with his wife.

Police said the 54-year-old was gaunt, but in good spirits.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed Rodwell's release and thanked the Philippine government for their efforts in the release. Neither country would say whether any ransom was paid.

The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnapping foreigners and holding them for ransom. They are still holding a Swiss, one Dutch and one Japanese national on the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan.