‘All vic­tims res­cued with­out fir­ing a sin­gle bul­let’

New Straits Times - - News -

KOTA KINABALU: The last three Malaysians held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf are now safe with au­thor­i­ties in the Philip­pines.

The three were res­cued af­ter eight months in cap­tiv­ity in a mis­sion that saw no ex­change of fire deep in Jolo late on Sun­day morn­ing.

Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Ju­madil Rahim, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Is­mail, 33, are at a mil­i­tary hospi­tal in Jolo re­cu­per­at­ing.

Philip­pine Western Min­danao Com­mand (WesMinCom) In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Cap­tain Jo-Ann D. Pet­inglay said they were weak and de­hy­drated but re­lieved.

Their res­cue came three days af­ter the re­lease of two of their col­leagues — Tayudin An­jut, 45, and Abdul Rahim Sum­mas, 62 — both of whom were re­united with their fam­i­lies yes­ter­day.

“Fol­low­ing the res­cue mil­i­tary oper­a­tion last Thurs­day, we re­ceived vi­tal in­for­ma­tion from the two vic­tims that led us to the three re­main­ing (Malaysians).

“Our res­cue oper­a­tion was fo­cused on a vil­lage area in Pan­glima Estino in the Sulu Prov­ince. There was no shoot-out and there was no en­counter,” she said, adding that WestMinCom co­or­di­nated with the Malaysian mon­i­tor­ing team in the Philip­pines in both mis­sions.

Af­ter the first res­cue mis­sion, Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants had taken their vic­tims to Pobla­cion Pu­nay in Pan­glima Estino, about 26km away from the first fo­cused oper­a­tion area.

Tayudin and Abdul Rahim were res­cued af­ter their cap­tors left them be­hind at a man­grove in Barangay Karudong in Kal­ing­galang Calu­ang. The three oth­ers were also aban­doned by the Abu Sayyaf when mil­i­tary per­son­nel ar­rived at the lo­ca­tion.

In a state­ment is­sued by WestMinCom, com­man­der Ma­jor Gen­eral Car­l­ito G. Galvez Jr said: “We con­sider this a suc­cess on a high level since we were able to res­cue the kid­nap vic­tims with­out fir­ing a sin­gle bul­let. This in­di­cates that the peo­ple are com­ing to­gether to go against the ban­dits and no longer want them in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are re­it­er­at­ing our call to ev­ery peace-lov­ing ci­ti­zen of Western Min­danao to con­tinue sup­port­ing us in this en­deav­our.

“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,” said Galvez.

An es­ti­mated 20 for­eign­ers are still be­ing held by the Abu Sayyaf.

East­ern Sabah Se­cu­rity Com­mand (Esscom) com­man­der Datuk Abdul Wan Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said Esscom was in con­stant con­tact with their Philip­pines coun­ter­part for up­dates on its mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.

“The Malaysian author­ity is mak­ing the nec­es­sary ar­range­ments to bring (the Malaysians) home so they can be re­united with their fam­i­lies as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

(From left) Mohd Ridzuan Is­mail, Fandy Bakran and Mohd Ju­madil Rahim in Jolo.

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