Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits rescued
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The military said the remaining Vietnamese kidnap victims had all been rescued following a military operation on Tawi-Tawi.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao Command, said Saturday that soldiers stormed a suspected Abu Sayyaf lair near Languyan town on Friday morning and rescued Buy Xuan Vien, Bui Trung Duc, Nguten Quang Huy, and Nguyin Huu Trong.
The fifth remaining Vietnamese, Huu Trong, was found dead inside the bandits’ lair during the 7:45 a.m. operation, according to Medina.
He had apparently succumbed to a lingering illness.
“Through the operations conducted by our Marines and Navy, we successfully recovered the Vietnamese hostages off Tawi-Tawi waters, and we mean to intensify our offensives to pressure the bandits to yield,” said Brigadier General Custodio Parcon, Jr., the commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
The Vietnamese were among the crew of M/V Giang Hai 5, which Abu Sayyaf bandits forcibly boarded on February 25 as it was sailing off the waters of Pearl Bank in Pangutaran, Sulu.
Of the 17 crew, two were killed while attempting to escape from the Abu Sayyaf. Ten were later rescued by soldiers while Xuan Vien’s group was taken by the fleeing bandits.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., the Western Mindanao Command chief, said they continued to pursue the Abu Sayyaf to rescue other hostages the bandit group still held.
At least 16 hostages still remained – including seven foreigners, according to Galvez.
“Operations by our ground units continue to yield positive results as we relentlessly pursue the bandits to thwart their kidnapping ploys and rescue their victims,” Galvez said.
He also said that rescuing the victims would not end the military operations against the bandit group.
“Through the resolve of our Joint Task Forces, we continue to reach our objectives with the end state of defeating the Abu Sayyaf,” he added.
The military had earlier said that the Abu Sayyaf would now be among the next targets after the defeat of the Maute group in Marawi City.
Basilan, where slain Islamic State emir Isnilon Hapilon hailed, had always been known as among the strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf.
The military said the anti-Abu sayyaf campaign would also include Sulu – where the bandit group remained very active to this day despite previous massive military actions that saw the deaths of most of its original leaders. /asu
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