Kidnapped American woman found on Philippine island, police say

Muslim children show placards during a protest for peace in suburban Manila in 2009.

Story highlights

  • Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann was released on Basilan island
  • Authorities are declining to confirm whether a ransom was paid for the woman's release
  • Lunsmann was abducted in July along with her son and her nephew
  • Lunsmann and her son, Kevin, are U.S. passport holders
A Filipino-American woman abducted in July in the Philippines was found Sunday on an island stronghold of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, police said.
Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 43, was found at Suba Kampong township on the Philippine island of Basilan after her captors released her, said Bienvenido Latag of the Philippine National Police.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila on Monday confirmed Lunsmann's release in Basilan after she was held hostage by a still unidentified group of bandits.
Latag did not say why Lunsmann was released, but the mayor of the town where Lunsmann was taken after she was released said she was freed following negotiations between her husband and her abductors.
Mayor Cesar Lobregat, head of a Crisis Management Committee in Zamboanga City, declined to confirm whether officials paid a ransom.
Fourteen gunmen snatched Lunsmann in July while she was vacationing with her family on the island of Tictabon, authorities said. The gunmen also took hostage Lunsmann's 14-year-old son, Kevin, and her 19-year-old Filipino nephew, Romnick Jakaria, they said.
Authorities said the abductors forced Lunsmann and her family to board awaiting boats, which then sped off in the direction of Basilan.
It was not immediately known whether the captors are still holding Lunsmann's son and nephew.
Lunsmann was adopted by Americans when she was 9 and grew up in Virginia. She eventually married a German citizen. Both she and the son, Kevin, are U.S. passport holders.
Police at the time of the abduction said they suspected the son attracted attention because of his distinctive mixed-race looks in an area with few foreign tourists.
Basilan serves as a base for Abu Sayyaf, which wants to establish a separate state for the Philippines' minority Muslim population. The U.S. State Department considers the group a terrorist organization and says it is linked to al Qaeda. The Philippines government has been fighting to contain the militants.
Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several terrorist attacks in the Philippines, including the bombing of a ferry in 2004 that left about 130 people dead, as well as past kidnappings.