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The BBC's John McLean
"Libya has agreed to pay several million dollars for the release of the hostages"
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Sunday, 10 September, 2000, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Kidnappers' rift holds up Jolo releases
Former hostage Stephane Loisy relaxes in Cebu
Former hostage Stephane Loisy relaxes in Cebu
Hopes that two French journalists being held hostage on the southern Philippines island of Jolo may be released on Sunday are fading.

The government's chief negotiator said the delay was caused by fighting between factions of the Abu Sayyaf group, which is holding the captives, and it was likely to be another few days before the men were freed.

Seppo Fraenti shows his relief after 20 weeks in captivity
Seppo Fraenti shows his relief after 20 weeks in captivity
Four European hostages who were released on Saturday after 20 weeks in captivity are relaxing in a luxury hotel in the central Philippine city of Cebu.

The group is scheduled to fly to Libya, which has played a key role in getting the captives freed, where they will be ceremonially handed over to their governments.

'Unstable situation'

Seppo Fraenti and Risto Vahanen from Finland, Marc Wallert from Germany and Frenchman Stephane Loisy had been waiting for two French captives to join them but they could now fly to the Libyan capital Tripoli later on Sunday.

Fighting between the Abu Sayyaf factions is believed to concern a dispute over the sharing of millions of dollars in ransom money which Libya has guaranteed in return for the freedom of the hostages.

"The situation is still quite unstable," chief negotiator Robert Aventajado said.

An injured rebel in Jolo
Rebels have been injured in clashes between different factions
"We can't operate right away after the incident."

The kidnappers have also said they fear a military assault on their camp once all the hostages are released.

An American and 16 Filipinos are also still being held at various locations on Jolo, but negotiations for their release have not made much progress.

'Captives celebrate'

One diplomat who visited the freed captives at their hotel, described how relieved they were to have left the jungle camp.

"I left at midnight, but they were still celebrating," he said.

"They were joking and laughing. It was the first time in a long, long time they had seen knives and glasses."

Finnish hostage Risto Mirco Vahanen said being released as like " being reborn". He said he planned to go straight back to work when he returned home.

"Anything after this is like a vacation," he said.

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See also:

07 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jolo hostage release 'imminent'
01 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Rebels seek $10m for US hostage
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Militants threaten to behead hostage
02 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Abu Sayyaf hostage-takers?
27 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hostages' four-month ordeal
02 May 00 | World
Analysis: How hostages cope
09 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: The Jolo hostage drama
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