An American tourist and his wife kidnapped by outlaws and held 17 days for ransom were freed by the bandits after soldiers shelled their hideout and forced them to flee, U.S. officials said.

An embassy official flew Wednesday morning to Iligan, capital of southern Lanao del Norte province, to pick up the couple from military authorities and escort them back to Manila.New York resident David Blair Stiffler and his Filipino wife Elpidia "appear to be in pretty good condition but they need some rest," said an embassy spokesman.