Manila: A retired Italian priest abducted six months ago in the southern Philippines by suspected Islamic militants was released today, police and the Italian government said.
Rolando Del Torchio was picked up at a port on the remote island of Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, national police spokesman Wilben Mayor, told AFP.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of militants infamous for kidnapping foreigners and demanding huge ransoms.
Its leaders have in recent years pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group that controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.
It is believed to be currently holding nearly 20 other foreigners. Mayor said Del Torchio was in poor health when he was found in the early evening inside a boat at the port on Jolo, a mainly Muslim-populated island about 950 kilometres south of Manila.
"The... Team decided to bring the kidnap victim to the Trauma Centre (a local military hospital) where he will be taken care of by a military doctor," Mayor said. Gunmen snatched Del Torchio, then 56, at gunpoint at his pizza restaurant on the city of Dipolog, about 400 kilometres northeast of Jolo, in October last year.
Del Torchio had worked as a missionary for the international organisation PIME in the south from 1998 before retiring in 2000 to set up his restaurant, colleagues told AFP shortly after he was abducted.
The identities of the kidnappers were never confirmed.
But authorities said they suspected he was taken by boat to the Abu Sayyaf.