Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Photo: AP)


Hanoi (VNA) -
Three Indonesian fishermen abducted by members of an Islamist group have been freed 18 months after they were abducted in waters off the southern Philippines, the Philippine military said on September 16. 

  
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the men were rescued in a remote village in Indanan of Sulu province.

They were kidnapped in January 2017 while on board a speedboat off the southernmost island group of Tawi-Tawi. 

The men were transferred to a local hospital for medical examination before being brought to the headquarters of the West Mindanao Command in Zamboanga city. They will be turned over to the Indonesian Ambassador in the Philippines.

Besana affirmed the rescue of the hostages was part of armed forces’ operations and there was no ransom payment. 

Philippine police said the operation took place on September 14, with the help of the Moro National Liberation Front, a rebel group that has signed a peace deal with the Philippine government.

Though the name of the group was not mentioned, the kidnapping is suspected to have been carried out by Abu Sayyaf, a terror group active in the west of Mindanao island and Sulu archipelago. 

Abu Sayyaf is an insurgent group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and has carried out kidnappings and bombings in the Philippines.

It also helped militants of the Maute group attack Marawi city in May 2017, starting a long-running battle against the government, with more than 1,200 people killed.-VNA