Soldiers of the Philippines. (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – Philippine security force on March 26 rescued three Malaysian hostages who were kidnapped by the militant group Abu Sayyaf last July.

According to Commander of East Sabah Security Command Abdul Wan Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, the three rescued hostages will be sent to hospital for health check-ups before going back to Malaysia.

The newly-rescued hostages were among five Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung 3 kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf on July 19, 2016, off the Malaysian state of Sabah. Philippine troops successfully rescued two of the five crewmen on March 23 and they were returned to Malaysia on March 26.

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

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