25 Mar 2013

Released Australian told to paddle for his life

1:15 pm on 25 March 2013

An Australian man held hostage in the Philippines has told police how his captors put him in a boat and told him to paddle for his life.

The 15-month ordeal of Warren Rodwell, who was abducted from his home in the southern Philippines by armed members of the al-Qaeda-linked group Abu Sayyaf on 5 December 2011,

ended after his family raised ransom money.

The former army officer was released early on Saturday near Pagadian city on the island of Mindanao on Saturday.

Internet video shows Mr Rodwell explaining to police he was put on a boat by his captors and told to paddle for his life, the ABC reports.

The emaciated 54-year-old is also shown pulling up his T-shirt and showing the camera his gaunt torso. He is now recovering in a Mindanao hospital with his sister at his side.

It is still not yet known how much money his family agreed to pay, but his captors had orignally demanded $US2 million for his release.

Australian foreign minister Bob Carr congratulated the Philippines government, particularly the police's anti-kidnapping group, for their professionalism and dedication in securing Mr Rodwell's release.

The Australian government had refused to negotiate, AAP reports.

Abu Sayyaf is considered the smallest and most radical of the extremist movements in the southern Philippines.