Rebels free ailing Philippine soldier held 12 days

Communist guerrillas freed a captive soldier Sunday because the ailing man apparently slowed their movement as troops hunted the rebels in the southern Philippines, the military said.

New People's Army rebels turned over army Corporal Daem Hadjaie to local officials in Compostela Valley province after 12 days of jungle captivity, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar said.

Hadjaie was unharmed but was taken to a military hospital.

A former Muslim rebel who has been integrated into the army under a 1996 peace deal, Hadjaie was abducted by the communist rebels Nov. 16 in Compostela's Moncayo town while en route to a hospital to seek treatment for stomach pain, Aguilar said.

"The rebels had to carry him sometimes because he was in pain," Aguilar said, adding the Maoist guerillas were pressured by a military manhunt and rescue.

The Philippines' 41-year Marxist rebellion has been one of Asia's longest and bloodiest. More than 120,000 combatants and civilians have died in the rural-based rebellion.

President Benigno Aquino III has formed a negotiating team to resume peace talks with the guerrillas but sporadic fighting has continued.

Peace talks brokered by Norway have been suspended since 2004 after the rebels accused the government of instigating their inclusion on U.S. and European terrorist lists.