A South Korean captain and a Filipino crewman abducted by suspected Islamist militants off the southern Philippines were released on Saturday, authorities said, ending a three-month ordeal where they endured beatings and hunger. The Philippine military said armed men identifying themselves as Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped the pair from a South Korean cargo ship in October last year, the first such attack on a large merchant vessel. Jesus Dureza, a senior aide to President Rodrigo Duterte, fetched the freed hostages in Sulu, a remote archipelago known as a militant hideout, and brought them to Davao, a city about 600km from Sulu. The two seafarers were beaten by their captors and forced to sleep in the jungle while eating dried fish and drinking unclean water, Dureza said. “We were almost hopeless but I am thankful we were able to come home safely,” Filipino crewman Glenn Alindajao, 31, said in a news briefing. South Korean captain Park Chung-hung, 38, did not speak with reporters but like Alindajao, appeared weak and grew a beard while in captivity. The abduction on board the 11,400-tonne heavy load carrier Dong Bang Giant 2 occurred just off the southern entry of the Sibutu Passage, a 29km wide channel used by merchant shipping in transit between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.