THE military recovered the body of an abducted Vietnamese sailor and rescued three others from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in “special operations” launched on Friday in Tawi-Tawi.
Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said one of the sailors, Nguyin Huu Trong, died while in captivity while the three – Buy Xuan Vien, Bui Trung Duc and Nguten Quang Huy – were taken to a military hospital in Zamboanga City where doctors were examining them.
The hostages were rescued from the hands of the ASG bandits at about 7:45 a.m. near Kang Tipayan Island in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi .
“Huu Trong was found dead when he was recovered by troops of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao and the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi. He succumbed to a lingering illness during his captivity,” Petinglay said without elaborating on the details of the military operations that led to the safe release of the three other hostages.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, chief of the naval forces in the region who played a key role in the recovery of the foreigners, said “the Vietnamese hostages were transported by Navy personnel to Zamboanga City for proper disposition and medical treatment.”
“Through the operations conducted by our Marines and Navy [personnel], we successfully recovered the Vietnamese hostages off Tawi-Tawi waters and we mean to intensify our offensives to pressure the bandits to yield,” Brigadier General Custodio Parcon Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said.
It was unknown whether the hostages had been freed for ransom or not. No one among the officials gave details of the “special operations” that led to the release of the Vietnamese seamen.
The sailors were among 17 crew members of cargo ship MV Giang Hai 5 which the bandits hijacked on February 25 while it was sailing off of Pangutaran Island. Two of the crew were also killed by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen while attempting to escape while the rest had been recovered by soldiers.
The recovery of the sailors coincided with President Duterte’s visit to Vietnam for the APEC summit. The ASG is still holding seven foreigners and nine Filipino hostages.