‘All victims rescued without firing a single bullet’
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.