MANILA – A 14-year old American lad who was kidnapped in southern Philippines, together with his mother and a relative by the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group on July 12 this year, dashed to freedom on Thursday (Dec. 8) in a daring escape when his captors were sleeping, officials said.
Kevin Eric Lunsmann was covered with mud all over his body when he was found by a village official on the island of Basilan some 900 kilometers south of Manila after walking for two days and surviving only candies he had in his pocket and coconut meat and juice which are abundant on the island’s jungle.
Lunsmann hid in bushes in between and took cover in big foliage as a precaution to avoid from being followed by his abductors, Mayor Roderick Furigay of the town of Lamitan said.
Unfamiliar of the island’s terrain, Lunsmann was wandering in the jungle where venomous snakes and wild boars thrive when he decided to follow the river “with the idea that he’ll reach the ocean,” Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat told a news conference Sunday.
Lunsmann later told Furgiay that he did not know where he was when spotted running around on Saturday at about 5:30 pm in the village of Bulingan by Councilor Kenny Ismail Illul who was going to the river to fish.
The 14-year old American took advantage of the occasion when his captors were sleeping and mustering all courage made a daring escape. For Lunsmann it was now or never and made it to freedom. Illul tried to talk to Lunsmann, but the American lad refused to go with him, thinking he was one of his captors.
It was only after a village chief, Mercedita Villarin that Lunsmann was convinced he was in good hands.
Police and militiamen also arrived to fetch Lunsmann in the village of Linggisan some eight kilometers from the town proper.
Lunsmann was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf terrorists, along with his mother, Gerfa, and a relative Romnick Jakaria in Zamboanga City on July 12.
However, the kidnappers freed Gerfa in the town of Maluso on October 2 and Jakaria on November 12.