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Girl, 10, jokes after release by kidnappers

GUNMEN released a businessman and his 10-year-old daughter from four days in captivity in the southern Philippines after their family reportedly paid a ransom, officials said yesterday.

Tan and the girl, whose family owns a chain of businesses including a hotel and a commercial store, were handed over to Tan's father-in-law in a village near Cotabato on Sunday evening, an army spokesman said.

Cotabato mayor Muslimin Sema said the youngster appeared in good health and was even joking that she was suntanned and her captivity "was just like I went to the beach for a vacation."

Muslim rebels are suspected to have been behind last week's abductions of William Tan and his daughter in Cotabato city in the country's volatile south, where ransom kidnappings have resurfaced this year with about 10 other people held.

Sema said he was told the relatives paid a ransom and that the kidnappers worried security forces might storm their hide-out. "They constantly moved from one place to another," he said.

Police have not identified the kidnappers but suspect they were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting for Muslim self-rule.


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