Abu Sayyaf men take new captives off Basilan
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf gunmen took new hostages on Thursday a few hours after the military claimed to have freed two Malaysian captives the bandits had held since July 2016.
Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea, station commander of the Philippine Coast Guard here, identified the two fresh captives as Capt. Aurelio Agacac and Chief Engr. Laurencio Tiro.
Dagalea said the two victims were forcibly taken when pirates seajacked the Panamanian-flagged MV Super Shuttle Roro 9 off Basilan on Thursday noon while it was sailing for General Santos City.
The military later said the pirates were Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The seajacking took place near Sibago Island in the town of Mohammad Ajul around 12:15 p.m.
Dagalea said the Coast Guard has dispatched a gun boat to pursue the abductors, who were last reported to be heading for Tuburan town on three speedboats.
Major General Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said government troops who responded to a distress call earlier sent from the Super Shuttle Roro 9 had engaged armed suspects
in a firefight in Muhammad Ajul town, also in Basilan.
“We tried to rescue them and there was a gunfight and one of the abductors had been captured,” Galvez said.
Col. Juvymax Uy, the commander of Army’s 104th Brigade based in Basilan, said the operation against suspects has been going on. “We are pushing the limits against these people,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the military said it “successfully rescued” two of the Malaysian tugboat crew held by Abu Sayyaf bandits since July last year.
In a statement, Galvez said Malaysians Tayudin Anjut, 45, and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, were freed after a “focused military operation” in Kalinggalang Caluang town in Sulu, near Pata Island.
“The rescued kidnap victims are weak and in a sickly state when they were rescued by our troops. Military doctors are now attending to them,” Galvez said.
He said the focused military operation was conducted when the Marines got information that Abu Sayyaf bandits had brought the two captives to Barangay Kudong.
Galvez did not say if a clash took place or the bandits were forced to abandon the captives.
Anjut and Sumas were among the five crew of Tugboat Serudung 3, who were abducted off Lahad Datu on Sabah by the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Sibih Pissih.
Those still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf were Fandy Bakran, 26; Mohamad Jumadil Rahim, 23; and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32.
Galvez said the “continuous pressure through unrelenting combat operations” also led to the surrender of an Abu Sayyaf member in Sulu on Monday, while another bandit was captured by government troops in Basilan on Sunday.
He said 41-year old Absara Mursalin Akbara, alias Talin Amsang, turned himself in on Monday and also surrendered an M-16 rifle in Talipao town.
“Akbara is a member of the ASG Sub-Group under Jihad Susukan, operating in the municipalities of Talipao, Maimbong and Indanan of Sulu province,” Galvez said.
He said Akbara feared he would be the next target of the military operations and yielded.
“He said that he no longer felt safe as communities have been tipping-off the sanctuaries and homes of Abu Sayyaf members,” Galvez claimed.
He said in Basilan, an Abu Sayyaf member under Furudji Indama was arrested in Ungkaya Pukan town on Sunday.
“Nur’s location was reported by a concerned citizen from the same area where he was apprehended,” Galvez said.
He said the military would “continue the pressure and sustain the strategic alliance with our partners in eradicating the ASG menace and terror threats in Central and Western Mindanao.”
“For as long as the community and the local government units are with us in this fight, we will surely accomplish our mission at the soonest possible time. Together we can make things happen,” Galvez added. SFM/rga
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