ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels freed three kidnapped Malaysian sailors in Sulu where security forces are battling the ISIS-affiliated jihadist group blamed for the spate of cross-border attacks in Malaysia.
The victims – Mohammad Ridzuan Bin Ismail, 33; Fandy Bin Bakran, 27, and Mohammad Jumadil Rahim, 24 – were released unharmed to the Joint Task Force Sulu under Col. Cirilito Sobejana at the boundary of Sitio Kasanyangan, Barangay Tuyang, Talipao and Barangay Jinggan, Panglima Estino in Sulu at about 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.
They were immediately brought to the Kuta Heneral Teodolfo Bautista Station Hospital in Barangay Bus-Bus in Jolo.
Two of their companions – Abd Rahim Summas, 63, and Tayudin Anjut, 46, – were released by the Abu Sayyaf on March 23.
The sailors, crew of Tugboat Serudong Tiga 3, were abducted off Lahad Datu town in Sabah on July 18, 2016. It was unknown if Malaysia or their employer paid ransom to the Abu Sayyaf, but the jihadist group had originally demanded P30 million ransom for each of the sailors.
Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año said they are determined to rescue other remaining foreign and local hostages of the ASG.
There are about 20 foreigners and seven Filipinos being held by the group.
Sobejana said the military is exerting all efforts to rescue all the hostages.
WITH A REPORT FROM Fernan Marasigan