MANILA: Philippine government forces on Sunday rescued two Indonesian hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) following gunbattles that left one soldier and one militant dead.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command, identified those rescued as Maharudin bin Lunani and Samiun bin Maneu.
They were among three Indonesians seized by ASG gunmen from a fishing trawler on Sept. 23.
Sobejana said a rescue operation is ongoing for the third hostage, identified as Muhammad Farhan.
On Sunday, the 4th Marine Battalion launched a pre-dawn raid on an ASG lair on Sulu island, leading to two gunbattles between government forces and the militants.
“There were two encounters leading to the killing of one ASG member. We were able to recover the body and his weapons, an M16 (rifle) and an M203 (grenade launcher). We also lost one soldier, and another was wounded,” said Sobejana, adding that the two rescued hostages said their companion is still in the area.
“So I’ve requested for additional forces to cordon the area and recover the remaining Indonesian kidnap victim. We’re optimistic that we can rescue Farhan,” he said.
“We’ll continue to pursue and neutralize militants with our deliberate operations to rescue captives and thwart their hostile plans.”
In November, Philippine troops rescued a British businessman and his wife who were abducted by armed men from their beach resort in October and were held captive in Sulu.