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Free after 2 1/2 months in captivity, two French journalists today told a news conference how they escaped from their Muslim rebel captors in the darkness and then hid overnight in the jungles of a remote island in the southern Philippines.

Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura said they bolted from the Abu Sayyaf rebel group Tuesday night as the rebels were rushing to cross a road.

The rebels have been on the run with their 19 captives since Saturday, when the government launched a massive military assault on Jolo Island. The other hostages are still being held.

"We hid for some minutes, and after that we ran on the road," Le Garrec said. "We spent the night hiding in the jungle in case they would be looking around for us." At dawn, he said, they flagged down a military truck on the road and were taken to a military camp.

The former hostages appeared well as they spoke to reporters at the presidential palace in Manila. The rebels had taken them hostage after they came to Jolo to interview other hostages.

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