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Boy, 14, in jungle dash for freedom

A kidnapped American boy who escaped from suspected Muslim militants wandered without shoes for two days in a Philippine jungle before villagers found him.

Police Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo said 14-year-old Kevin Lunsmann, of Campbell County, Virginia, told his kidnappers that he would take a bath in a stream, then ran away after five months of captivity on Basilan Island.

The boy, who was barefoot, followed a river and ran away when he saw villagers, who eventually assured him that they were friends.

Mr De Ocampo said the boy was fine except for bruises on his legs and arms.

The boy's Filipino-American mother, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, was freed two months ago.

Kevin was recovered in Lamitan town on southern Basilan Island, a stronghold of al Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels who are believed to be behind the kidnapping, said military spokesman Lt Col Randolph Cabangbang.

He was now safe in military custody, he said, without offering other details.

US ambassador Harry Thomas said the boy would be reunited with his family soon.

"In this holiday season nothing makes me happier than knowing that an innocent victim is returned to his family in time for holiday celebrations," Mr Thomas said. "I also want to acknowledge the courage of Kevin himself, and his family, throughout this long ordeal."

He said there would be a "speedy investigation and prosecution of all those involved in the kidnapping of American citizens".

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