By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AA) – Five Filipino kidnap victims of the notorious Abu Sayyaf group have been rescued by government troops in the southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi, military officials said Monday.
Troops of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi and the Naval Task Group of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao Command carried out the rescue Friday in waters off Sugbay Island in Languyan town.
“The successful rescue was made possible due to the loose security of the captors,” Brigadier General Custodio Parcon Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, was quoted by Philippine-based online news portal Rappler as saying.
Parcon added that the thoroughly planned ongoing focused military operations in the area made the captors confused and on the run.
“The timing was critical, since the captors might shoot the victims if they would know about the plan,” said Western Mindanao Command Rear Admiral Rene Medina.
“We were able to lead them to safety through our contacts,” he added.
The rescued victims were fishermen abducted last month by the militant group near the coastal area of Simbahan village, Pangutaran town in nearby Sulu province.
Commander of Western Mindanao Command Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr. said the victims were subjected to medical examinations upon their arrival at the headquarters to address their medical conditions.
Galvez commended the military units for successfully carrying out rescue operations through special operations.
“Just last week, three Vietnamese kidnap victims were rescued from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf group captors also thru connections and buildup,” said Galvez
Armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles, the Abu Sayyaf group has allegedly pledged allegiance to Daesh and has been carrying out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines since 1991.
After the latest rescue, the local militant group is still holding at least 7 foreigners and 10 Filipinos as captives.