ZAMBOANGA CITY- The three remaining Malaysians abducted by the Abu Sayyaf were rescued Monday as government troops continue to relentlessly pursue the bandits in Sulu province, top military officials said.
"Unrelenting massive search and rescue operations by sea, air and land units of the Task Force Sulu led to the rescue of the three kidnapped Malaysian boat crewmen," Col. Cirilito Sobejana, Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said.
He said they were rescued at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Poblacion Punay in Panglima Estino, Sulu province.
Sobejana identified the rescued victims as Mohammad Jumadil Rahim, Mohammad Ridzuan Bin Ismail and Fandy Bin Bakran.
So far, all the Malaysian kidnapped victims have been rescued. The victims are sailors manning the tugboat Serudong that was hijacked on July 19 between the waters of Sabah, Malaysia and the southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi.
Two of their companions, Tayudin Anjut and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, were rescued on Thursday, March 23, in between the towns of Kalinggalan Caluang and Pata, Sulu.
Sobejana said the information provided by Anjut and Sumas led to the successful rescue of their three companions.
"Following the lead and the information gathered from the two Malaysian crew members, Joint Task Force Sulu immediately dispatched all available resources at the lair of the Abu Sayyaf. This pressed the bandits to leave the Malaysians behind," he said.
The operating troops are from the 63rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Marines Ready Force and Naval Intelligence Special Group-Western Mindanao.
"We are overwhelmed by the support we are receiving from the different organizations and entities that led to these recent successes," said Sobejana.
"We will continue to exert all means to rescue all the kidnap victims that are still being held captive by these bandits," he added.
Maj. Gen. Carlito G Galvez, Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, lauded the troops for their efforts.
"Our troops are doing extra efforts just to be able to rescue all KVs (kidnap victims). We consider this (rescue) a success on a higher level since we were able to rescue the KVs without firing a single bullet. This indicates that the people are coming together to go against the bandits and no longer wants them in their communities," Galvez said.
"We are again reiterating our call to every peace-loving citizens of Western Mindanao to continue supporting us in this endeavor. If efforts are united, we can surely make things happen and be able to reap the results together by attaining a peaceful community free of fear from terror," he added.
The Malaysian rescued victims were immediately brought to Kuta Heneral Teodolfo Bautista Station Hospital in Barangay Bus-Bus, Jolo, Sulu and were immediately attended to by military doctors and nurses.
The rescue of the three Malaysians has brought down the number of hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf to 29.
President Rodrigo Duterte has given the military six months to finish off the Abu Sayyaf. The deadline will lapse on June 30.
Galvez said the military is continuing its pressure operations to constrict the areas of the Abu Sayyaf.
Source: Philippines News Agency