A Vietnamese sailor held hostage by Abu Sayyaf militants for nine months in the southern Philippines has been rescued by government forces, the military said Monday.
Naval counter-terrorism troops under a military joint task force rescued Do Trung Hieu Sunday evening in the rebel’s jungle-clad stronghold on Basilan island, about 1,500 km (875 miles) south of Manila, officials said.
“The rescue was a result of the maximized conduct of intelligence operations and the successful airstrike mission launched by our troops on the ground,” task force group commander Col. Juvymax Uy told reporters.
“Do Trung Hieu was rescued by troops as the bandits were forced to leave their stronghold, which was being targeted and overrun by our operating troops,” he said.
Hieu has been brought to military headquarters in the south and has undergone medical tests. So far, he is said to be in remarkable condition despite his ordeal, officials said.
Hieu, 33, and five other crew members of the M/V Royal 16 were seized by an Abu Sayyaf faction led by commanders Alvin Yusop, Alhabsy Misaya and Radzmil Jannatual while passing through waters near Basilan in November 2016, military officials said.
In June, another captive Hoang Vo, 22, was wounded as he escaped from his captors. The following month, however, troops recovered the bodies of Hoang Trung Thong and Hong Van Hai, who were decapitated.
Since then, an intensified military crackdown led to the death of Misaya.
Hieu’s rescue leaves 18 hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf in the southern region, 14 of whom are foreigners, according to the military. The gunmen beheaded a German captive earlier this year and two Canadians last year after their governments rejected ransom demands.
Full story: BenarNews
Jeoffrey Maitem and Richel V. Umel
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