The military said the government’s anti-terror campaign has led to the rescue of three Indonesian nationals held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group for 20 months since Jan. 18 last year.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command identified the rescued Indonesian hostages as Hamdam Salim, 34; Subandi Sattuh, 27 and Sudarlan Samansung, 41.
Besana said the hostages were rescued from the ASG at 4 pm Saturday in Brgy. Buanza, Indanan, Sulu.
Besana said that the three Indonesians were turned over to Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan and Sulu provincial police officer Sr. Supt Labra.
The three Indonesians will be eventually turned over to the Indonesia Ambassador at the Western Mindanao Command.
The 3 hostages were taken Jan. 18, 2017 while on board a speedboat off the waters of Taganak Island, Tawi-Tawi.
Meanwhile, Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Sunday that operating units from the Joint Task Force Sulu under Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo conducted focused operations against the terrorist in Brgy Bakong, Patikul killing seven terrorists in an ensued firefight.
Arevalo said the fighting erupted hours as Typhoon “Ompong” threatened to hit land in Cagayan and Isabela provinces at 1:30 am Friday.
Arevalo disclosed that six other terrorists were injured, including ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaaan who was hit in the stomach and lower extremities.
The renewed fighting with the ASG injured 17 soldiers who sustained shrapnel wounds.
“We praise the combat skills of our soldiers in seizing the element of surprise and firepower. They were unfazed by volleys of retaliatory fire from more or less 100 Abu Sayyaf terrorists under senior leader Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan,” Arevalo said.
He said that the site of the intense skirmishes is a notorious ASG territory on the basis of military and human intelligence.
“The folks of Patikul knows it very well such that no civilians dared to go or pass by the place,” Arevalo added.
“We stand firm in our report that this was a legitimate encounter contrary to enemy propaganda that it was a “massacre,” Arevalo pointed out.