The Joint Task Force Sulu composed of a Philippine Marines team and the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Thursday rescued two Malaysian seafarers kidnapped by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu eight months ago, military officials said on Thursday.
The victims – Tayudin Anjut, 45, and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62 – were abandoned by their abductors along the coastline of Kalingalang Caluang town in Sulu upon seeing soldiers tracking them down in the area
Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Westmincom, the sailors were weak and sickly state found by members of the Fleet-Marine units under Joint Task Force Sulu off the waters of Kalingalang Caluang near Pata island in Sulu at about 2 a.m.
“They were immediately taken to a military base in the capital town of Jolo where medical doctors examined them. They are okay, although weak and tired from their ordeal in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf,” Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, Westmincom spokesman, told The Manila Times.
The victims were among the five Malaysian crew of the tugboat Serudung 3 snatched by the ASG under its sub-leader Sibih Pissih on July 19, 2016 off the waters of Dent Haven, Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah.
They were reported missing after their tugboat and barge were found abandoned in the area.
The Abu Sayyaf, under sub-leaders Alhabsy Misaya and Pissih, demanded at least P100- million ransom for the safe release of all Malaysian sailors.
Prior to the rescue operations, Galvez said the Philippine Marines received information that Misaya with about 30 fully armed followers and two Malaysian hostages were hiding at the mangrove area of Barangay Karudong in Kalinggalang Caluang town.
He added that after an operation by the Marine troops on Capual Island last February 7 where eight ASG members under Misaya were killed, ground troops have maximized intelligence monitoring and closely pursued the group of Misaya to safely rescue the hostages.
“Troops are continuing pursuit operations against the kidnap-for-ransom groups to rescue the remaining kidnap victims and continue the pressure on the Abu Sayyaf to release their hostages and possibly for them to surrender to authorities,” Galvez said.
Security forces recently killed ASG sub-leader Buchoy Hassan linked to a spate of ransom kidnappings in Sabah in a firefight in Tawi-Tawi near the Malaysian border.
Hassan had been implicated by Philippine and Malaysian authorities in the November 2013 kidnapping of Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei who was freed two months later in Sulu after her family paid huge ransom at Pulau Pom Pom off Sabah’s Semporna town.
Chang’s husband Hsu Li Min was killed during the kidnapping.
WITH JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL and AL JACINTO