By Francis Wakefield
Three Malaysian nationals earlier kidnap by Abu Sayyaf bandits were rescued by the military in Sulu Sunday night, March 26.
Initial reports reaching the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) in Zamboanga City, identified the rescued victims as Zulkipli Bin Ali, Mohammad Ridzuan Bin Ismail, and Fandy Bin Bakran.
Reports said the three were rescued by members of the Joint Task Force Sulu who were then conducting focus military operations in the vicinity of Barangay Jinggan, Panglima Estino, Sulu, at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday (March 26).
The rescued kidnap victims were brought to Kuta Heneral Teodolfo Bautista Hospital for medical check up.
AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said the three remaining Malaysian hostages were successfully rescued as a result of intensified operations.
“Our Joint Task Force Sulu under Colonel Sobejana rescued the three Malaysian hostages in Panglima Estino, Sulu. On March 23, we were able to rescue two Malaysians, last night the remaining three Malaysian hostages were also safely rescued by the 63rd Infanty Battalion, the Marines and the Naval Intelligence Security Group (NISG),” Año said during an operation.
“They are all alive and well. They are now in Kota Bautista, Heneral Bautista in Sulu. So this is good news,” he added.
Año said that base on information they received, the Abu Sayyaf bandits abandoned or just left the three Malaysians in the mountainous part of the area due to intense pressure from the military. He added that no encounter took place between government forces and the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya.
Año said with the safe rescue of the three Malaysians, the total number of remaining Abu Sayyaf hostages stood at 20 foreigners and seven Filipinos.
“There are Indonesians, Vietnamese, Dutch and the remaining are Filipinos,” Año said.
Año said government troops are currently developing more target packages to rescue the remaining hostages or kidnap victims.