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An American teenager abducted by Islamist militants in the Philippines five months ago fled barefoot through the jungle after telling his captors he was going for a bath in a stream.

Kevin Lunsmann, 14, tricked his four armed Abu Sayyaf kidnappers on Friday.

He evaded their clutches, then followed the stream down a mountain and walked for two days without shoes before he was found by villagers on the island of Basilan.

Great escape ... Kevin Lunsmann, right, a kidnapped American teenage boy, talks to Zamboanga city mayor Celso Lobregat.Great escape … Kevin Lunsmann, right, talks to Zamboanga city mayor Celso Lobregat. Photo: AP

At first he feared they might be sympathetic to his captors and fled. But after a brief chase, the villagers convinced the boy, who was exhausted, hungry and in shock, that they meant him no harm, and his ordeal was finally over late on Saturday.

“He was in fear, so there was a bit of a chase before the villagers convinced him that they were friends,” said police Senior Superintendent Edwin de Campo, adding that Kevin had bruises on his arms and feet but was otherwise fine.

Harry Thomas, the US ambassador to the Philippines, said that Kevin had talked to his family by phone and would be reunited with them shortly.

He added: “In this holiday season nothing makes me happier than knowing that an innocent victim is returned to his family in time for the holiday celebrations.”

Kevin was seized with his Filipino-American mother, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, 50, and a Filipino cousin, Romnick Jakaria, 19, while they were on holiday with relatives on an island near Zamboanga city on July 12.

In a carefully co-ordinated raid at 3am more than a dozen armed men stormed the resort on Tictabon Island, off Mindanao, and overpowered the guards.

Police said that Mrs Lunsmann, who grew up on Basilan and changed her name from Jerpa Usman, was visiting relatives and had intended to return with Kevin to her husband in Virginia.

Their captors took the hostages to Basilan island and called the family in the US to demand a ransom. Mrs Lunsmann was freed two months ago, but it is unclear whether a ransom was paid.

Mr Jakaria escaped last month when special forces from the Philippines army got near an Abu Sayyaf mountain redoubt.

Kidnapping for ransom has long been a problem in the impoverished southern Philippines where most of the seizures are blamed on Abu Sayyaf, which has fought a decades-long insurgency.

Troops hunting the militants had engaged one Abu Sayyaf group in a firefight near Lamitan town where Kevin was eventually found. This may have distracted his captors and allowed him the chance to escape.

But Philippines army Colonel Ricardo Visaya said he asked the boy if he had been set free, suggesting a ransom might have been paid.

The boy replied: “No, I really did it myself.”

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