Philippines Military Rescues 3 Indonesians from Abu Sayyaf

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
Philippines Military Rescues 3 Indonesians from Abu Sayyaf Philippine officials present rescued Indonesian hostages, wearing dark blue shirts and face shields, after they were turned over to the military’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga city, March 19, 2021.
Handout/Western Mindanao Command

Philippine security forces rescued three Indonesian hostages and captured an alleged Abu Sayyaf militant who was escorting them in the far southern island group of Tawi-Tawi, the military said Friday.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the victims were rescued after a boat capsized Thursday night in waters off a small island called Pasigan.

“It turned out that three of the recovered persons were Indonesian kidnap victims and the other was an Abu Sayyaf,” Vinluan said.

The Marine Battalion Landing Team identified those rescued as boat captain Arsyad bin Dahlan and his crewmen Riswanto bin Hayono and Arizal Kastamiran.

Troops were conducting rescue and retrieval operations to locate Muhammad Khairul, another Indonesian captured last year who was believed to be with this compatriots when the boat sank.

Officials identified the alleged Abu Sayyaf member, a Filipino, as Sahud Salisim (alias Ben Wagas).

Indonesian consular officials met with and identified the three men, who were in good health, said Judha Nugraha, director for protection of Indonesians overseas at the foreign ministry in Jakarta. The men were to be flown to Manila before returning to Indonesia.

The three Indonesians were part of a group of five working for a Malaysian fishing firm who were captured by Abu Sayyaf members in waters off Tambisan island in the Malaysian state of Sabah in January 2020, according to authorities.

One of the victims was killed by his abductors, authorities said, while trying to escape in Patikul, Sulu province, on Sept. 29, 2020. Original reports said the victim, identified as La Baa, was found sprawled on the ground after suffering gunshot wounds.

“He was not shot as it turns out, but had sustained an injury to the head caused by a blunt object which could have possibly caused his death,” Vinluan told BenarNews on Oct. 2, 2020. “What is still correct, however, is that he was executed as his Abu Sayyaf captors fought with the military.”

On Friday, Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said that Abu Sayyaf members were taking their hostages to Tawi-Tawi because of ongoing military operations in Sulu.

 “However, while sailing, the water craft described as a ‘Jungkong’ [a small wooden motorized boat] … was hit by big waves and capsized,” Rojas said.

The military rescued four people while another person on the boat, identified as Bensal Jakare, of Indanan town in Sulu, was rescued by a passenger boat. 

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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