Rescue operations continue for one more Indonesian kidnap victim
ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has ordered continuing pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu who still hold one of three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in Malaysian waters last September.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, said he has directed the reinforcement of troops and the possible cordoning off of a village in Panamao, Sulu.
“This is part of our relentless effort to rescue the remaining captive and defeat the Abu Sayyaf before the end of the year,” Sobejana explained.
Sobejana said troops are aiming to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf group and two of its top leaders, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Radulan Sahiron.
“We have reinforced our troops and have cordoned off the area, so we are optimistic that we can rescue (Muhammad) Farhan,” Sobejana added.
Earlier, the military said the militants are still holding seven individuals – three Indonesians, three Filipinos, and one Vietnamese national.
On Sunday morning, government troops freed from the bandits’ hands two Indonesian fishermen following two rounds of gun battles in Barangay Pugad Manaul in Panamao, Sulu.
Major Arvin John Encinas, Westmincom spokesperson, identified the two rescued Indonesians as Maharudin Bin Lunani, 48, and Samiun Bin Maneu, 26.
Lunani, Maneu, and Farhan, 27, were abducted last Sept. 23 in the waters off Lahad Datu, Sabah.
At around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, government troops belonging to the 62nd Marine Company and Force Reconnaissance Company engaged the bandits in a 25-minute gunfight that killed a soldier and an Abu Sayyaf fighter who was later identified as Hairula Itum.
On the second armed encounter at around 6 a.m., the soldiers were able to free Lunani and Maneu, and recovered several firearms used by the bandits.
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