Philippine soldiers rescued two Indonesian hostages today (Thursday, September 7) after a firefight that killed five Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
Five soldiers were wounded in the encounter with about 20 militants on the group’s Sulu Island stronghold, Brigadier-General Cirilito Sobejana said.
“Minutes later, we intercepted a van which was carrying two Indonesian captives while pursuing the Abu Sayyaf after the encounter,” he said.
“It appears they were able to flee their captors after the encounter.
“They are now safe and undergoing tactical debriefing after medical checkup.”
The men are said to be in good physical shape despite their 10-month ordeal.
Abu Sayyaf have attacked numerous commercial ships in the Sulu and Celebes Sea, kidnapping sailors and demanding ransoms.
Alongside these lucrative crimes, the group is also affiliated to the so-called Islamic State.
Abu Sayyaf typically holds at least two dozen hostages at any given time. As victims are executed, rescued or released for ransom, the group typically kidnaps others.
A German and two Canadians are among those who have been beheaded since last year.
Five Indonesian hostages still held
Brig. Gen. Sobejana said the Indonesian fishermen were abducted from a Malaysian-registered boat in waters near the Malaysian state of Sabah in November. They have been identified as Sarapuddin Koni and Sawal Maryam.
He added that the group was still holding about 18 captives on Sulu and Basilan Island, including foreigners. These include five from Indonesia, seven from Vietnam and a Dutchman.
One Vietnamese sailor was rescued last month after nine months in captivity.
Abu Sayyaf fighters are among the militants who have occupied Marawi City for more than 100 days.
Troops are still fighting to retake the city after a battle that has killed more than 800 people, including 145 soldiers.
A number of civilians are being held as human shields by the terrorists and up to half-a-million people have been displaced by the fighting.