Islamist militants in the Philippines have freed a reporter with the Pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel after holding him captive for 18 months, the Dubai-based broadcaster said Wednesday. Jordanian reporter Bakr Atyani, who was kidnapped in June 2012, is now free and receiving medical care in a hospital in the Philippines, Al-Arabiya said in a statement. He was handed over to authorities in the remote island of Jolo by the kidnappers, who belong to the Abu Sayyaf Islamist movement, the statement said. "The Philippines authorities are now responsible for ensuring his safe return to his family in Jordan," the statement said. Atyani and two Filipino crew members went missing in June last year in Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, a small Islamist movement that has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings. In February the militants released the two crew members, who said they were separated from Atyani on the fifth day of their captivity. The Abu Sayyaf Group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang. US special forces have been rotating through the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops battling the group, which is on Washington's list of "foreign terrorist organisations."