After more than a year in captivity, 36-year-old Biju Kolara Veetil escaped from kidnappers belonging to the Abu Sayyaf militant group in southern Philippines in the early hours of Friday, while they were sleeping after fasting for Ramzan.
Hailing from Moodadi near Koyilandy in Kozhikode, he was working as an operations manager in a Kuwaiti company when he was kidnapped by four gunmen from the Sulu province, where he had gone to visit the parents of his Filipino wife Elena on June 9, 2011.
His captors were said to be belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group, often linked to the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, which is known to be behind the kidnappings of foreign nationals in the strife-torn province for ransom.
“Biju Kolara Veetil, an Indian national who was kidnapped in June 2011 in the Philippines, has escaped his captors and is now with the police in the Sulu province of the Philippines,” confirmed an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson here on Friday.
Indian officials were in touch with him and the local authorities to facilitate his early return to India, he said.
Biju’s escape sounds miraculous, as the local police had declared him dead in captivity in March.
According to a daily The Mindanao Examiner, Sulu police chief Antonio Freyra said that Biju was spotted by locals in the early hours of Friday after his escape.
He was taken by the local authorities to the hospital. “Biju is frail and weak, but he is recovering now. We are glad that he is alive. He told us that he escaped from the kidnappers,” Freyra was quoted as saying.
“The kidnappers were resting. They had been fasting (for Ramzan) and they got tired and fell asleep, so he slipped away,” Freyra said.