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Two kidnap victims rescued, 3 ASG killed in Sulu

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Government troops have killed three more Abu Sayyaf bandits and rescued two boat crewmen in separate operations in the island province of Sulu, according to military officials.

Fifteen soldiers were also injured in the operation at Sitio Darayanat in the boundary of Barangays Danag and Buhanginan in Patikul town around 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, said Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.

Sobejana said soldiers of the Philippine Army's 21st Infantry Battalion headed by Maj Christopher Genzola, engaged members of the Abu Sayyaf under Sub Commander Almujer Yaddah in an hour-long firefight.

He said operating troops were able to see the bandits dragging two bodies of their companions who appeared to be already lifeless.

The military pursued offensives against the Abu Sayyaf after receiving reports that the bandits were keeping hostages in the area.

"We believe that the Abu Sayyaf group is still carrying with them around six to seven kidnap victims," Sobejana said.

Meanwhile, Joint elements of the Anti-Kidnapping Group, the Sulu Provincial Police Office, and 501st Brigade under the Joint Task Force Sulu recovered two kidnap victims at Daang Puti, Patikul town Thursday afternoon.

Sobejana said victims Reyjim Rocabo, 41, and Roel Leones, 37, were on-board a motorcycle when they were intercepted by state forces in Daang Puti, Patikul town.

Rocabo and Leones were held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group for seven months.

According to Sobejana, the two were known to have been held by Yaddah's group.

"Rocabo and Leones are now under the custody of the Anti-Kidnapping Group and will eventually be turned-over to their families after actionable information [is] taken from them," said Sobejana.

The hostages were snatched by armed men while fishing in the Celebes Sea off Sulu last December.

One of their fellow crew members, Roy Ramos, was rescued in June, while their boat captain, Noel Esconde, was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in April.

Last week, the bodies of two beheaded Vietnamese nationals were found in Basilan. They were among six Vietnamese crewmen seized by the Abu Sayyaf off their cargo ship in Novembe.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf bandits, notorious for kidnap-for-ransom operations and beheading, are still holding over a dozen hostages, mostly foreigners. (Hader Glang)




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