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The Abu Sayyaf militants released three Indonesian nationals, who were kidnapped in last July off Lahad Datu, on Saturday night.

Professor Samsula Adju, spokesman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu, said the freed kidnap victims were already with Nur Misuari in Indanan town.

"Yes, they were released to the MNLF by the ASG," Adju told Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He also added that the three Indonesian would be turned over to the government on Sunday.

The freed victims were identified by Professor Octavio Dinampo, a university professor based in Sulu, as 34-year-old tugboat captain Lorens Koten, 40-year-old Teo Dores Kopong and a 46-year-old identified only as Emanuel. "I heard P30 million was paid to the Abu Sayyaf Group," Dinampo added.

Three Indonesian members of a tugboat crew were abducted by five armed men off Lahad Datu in last July. The attackers released four other crew members of the boat but took these three along with them.

After the abduction report, Sabah police commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun told AFP: "Three crew members carrying Indonesian passports were taken by the kidnappers. The remaining four, an Indonesian and three Filipinos were released because they did not have documents."

After being released, three men spent the night with Misuari in Indanan town.

On Saturday, the Abu Sayyaf group freed the Norwegian hostage, Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was joined by these three Indonesians after being kidnapped.

The Abu Sayyaf group, linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is known for kidnapping people and demanding millions of dollars in ransom for their return.

Recently, the group beheaded two Canadians whom they had kidnapped from a beach resort after a ransom deadline passed.

The rise of hijacking incidents at sea has prompted Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia governments to try to coordinate maritime patrols in order to control such incidents. In a trilateral maritime security meeting in Bali, the countries agreed to let each other enter one another's waters in times of emergency.

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