The captain of a cargo ship of the Republic of Korea and a Filipino crew member were released on January 14 (Source: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) – Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines freed two Filipinos held captive for nearly three months, the country’s military said on January 19, the second release in  within a week by the Islamic State-linked group.

It was unclear if a ransom was paid but the Philippine military said its intensified operations against the heavily armed group likely forced it to release the captives.

Franco Alano, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command attributed the move to the military’s enhanced force.

On January 14, Abu Sayyaf freed the captain of a cargo ship of the Republic of Korea and a Filipino crew member held since October, 2016.

Abu Sayyaf, founded in the 1990s, has 400 militants operating in the southern Philippines. They are notorious for kidnapping, bomb attacks and beheading hostages.

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to hunt down Abu Sayyaf and said he has no plan to strike a peace deal with the group.-VNA