Indian escapes from sleeping Philippine captors

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An Indian man kidnapped more than a year ago on a troubled southern Philippine island escaped Friday when his Muslim captors fell asleep after fasting for Ramadan, police said.
Biju Kolara Veetil, 37, was abducted by suspected Muslim extremists in June last year in Jolo while visiting his Filipina wife’s family on the strife-torn island.
But he snuck away from his sleeping captors before dawn Friday, hitching a ride then taking refuge with a local official before contacting police, said local police chief Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra.
“The kidnappers were resting. They had been fasting (for Ramadan) and they got tired and fell asleep, so he slipped away,” Freyra said.
The Indian, who said he lost 20 kilogrammes (44 pounds) in captivity, appeared to be in good health, the police chief said.
He was reunited on the island with his wife, who was surprised to see him free and told police she had not paid any ransom, Freyra said. The motive for the kidnapping remains unclear.
Impoverished Jolo is a stronghold of various armed groups including Muslim extremists, former rebels and private armies of powerful political clans.
The southern Philippines has long been the haunt of Muslim armed groups who kidnap foreigners and Christians for ransom including the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf.