Kidnappers believed to be Abu Sayyaf members freed Mayor Jeffrey Lim of Salug, Zamboanga del Norte, on Monday night, more than seven months after holding him captivity, authorities said.

Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, Zamboanga Peninsula regional police director, said Lim was freed around 10 p.m. somewhere in Zamboanga City, where the latter “was picked-up by a mediator.”

Lim and the unnamed “mediator” arrived at the mayor’s home in Salug around 3 a.m., after which the town executive took a rest and underwent debriefing, Estilles said.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said it is believed that Abu Sayyaf members abducted Lim and held him captive in Basilan.

“Ang tinuturo ay ASG kasi galing sa Zamboanga at sinabi na dinala pa sa Basilan, sa ngayon ASG ang tinuturo,” Caber told reporters by phone.

A P1.1-million ransom was reportedly paid in exchange for Lim’s release, but both Estilles and Caber said this was still unconfirmed.

“May na-receive kaming report na meron daw ibinigay na ransom money pero hindi pa namin ma-confirm ‘yun,” Caber said.

The 36-year-old Lim was abducted by about 10 men while having dinner at a food outlet in the bus terminal in Salug town proper on April 2.

The suspects were said to be carrying high-powered firearms and clad in shirts marked with “Pulis” and camouflage pants.

One of the men reportedly asked Lim to “sign” some documents before the others arrived and dragged the town executive into a multi-cab.

The suspects drove the multi-cab towards the adjacent barangay of Caracol, where police found the vehicle abandoned and burned.

Lim was then allegedly transferred to one of two white fishing boats “waiting” at the shore and were later seen negotiating towards Salug Bay. (John Roson)

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