ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) Muslim militants on Tuesday freed three teachers after four months of jungle captivity in the southern Philippines despite a refusal to pay ransom.
The Jan. 23 abductions from a boat off Zamboanga city were among several kidnappings-for-ransom blamed on the Abu Sayyaf extremist group and its allied gunmen.
The teachers' abductions were strongly condemned because they were working to provide education to underprivileged youths.
The Abu Sayyaf militants are still holding at least four hostages, including a Sri Lankan peace activist on Basilan island and an Italian Red Cross worker on nearby Jolo.
Gunmen handed over Quizon Freires, Janette Delos Reyes and Rafael Mayonado to a government negotiator in Mohamad Ajul township on Basilan.
The teachers were brought by speedboat to nearby Zamboanga, where they met their parents in tearful reunions and underwent medical checkups, Mayor Celso Lobregat said.
The three visibly lost weight and were still in shock but appeared to be in good health.
``They're still in a lot of stress but they're fine,'' Lobregat told The Associated Press by telephone. ``We thank God that they're back with us, alive.''
Thank God for this answered prayer! Please continue to pray for Eugenio Vagni, the Italian Red Cross worker held captive by Abu Sayaf, and for all hostages throughout the world.
Abu Sayaf Kidnaps 3 Teachers