ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Joint Task Force Basilan rescued on Friday a Vietnamese seaman kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) seven months ago.
Hoang Vo, 28, a member of the crew of cargo ship MV Royal 16, was recovered by soldiers during an operation in Sumisip-Ungkaya Pukan Complex. His five other co-sailors were reportedly being held in captivity by the bandits.
The fate of Vo’s companions remains unknown but the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) continued its airstrikes against the group led by Furudji Indama in Basilan.
Army Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, WestMinCom spokesman, said Vo, a native of Nghệ An province, had a wound on his back and was immediately taken to a hospital. She did not say the origin of the wound, but claimed troops who recovered Vo also found four automatic rifles, believed left behind by the bandits.
The Abu Sayyaf fighters hijacked the Vietnamese cargo ship and seized six crewmen, including its captain, in a daring attack on November 11, 2016 that wounded one sailor.
The ship was sailing off the province when 10 gunmen on a speedboat intercepted the vessel off Sibago Island and abducted its crew.
The ASG is still holding 26 captives, 21 of whom are in Sulu and five are in Basilan. Vo and five other crew were held by the Basilan-based bandits.
Meanwhile, Petinglay said military and police operations killed of two ASG members and kidnap-for-ransom group in Tubig Tanah village in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi last Thursday.
Operatives of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, under Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon, Jr., were going after remnants of the group of the slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abraham Hamid when the encounter happened.
The slain bandits were identified as Hamid Mohammad and Altasil Lakbaoin.
“We believe this operational accomplishment will leave no other option but to force remnants of the Abu Sayyaf members in Tawi-Tawi to return to the fold of the law and join the cause of the government against terrorism,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., WestMinCom commanding general, said.
Since January, 83 Abu Sayyaf members have been killed in the all-out military campaign against terrorism in Western Mindanao. Of this, 14 were killed in Basilan, 62 in Sulu and seven in Tawi-Tawi, the military added.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL