ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Military troops have rescued a Vietnamese sailor held hostage for seven months by the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Basilan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday, June 17.
Hoang Vo, 28, was rescued by troops on Friday after an air strike and artillery fire on an Abu Sayyaf camp in the island dispersed the kidnappers, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokeswoman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said.
Petinglay said the sailor was being treated for an unspecified wound on his back.
There is no way to independently verify the military's account of the rescue.
The Abu Sayyaf network has been kidnapping foreigners and locals for years and holding them for ransom on its remote island strongholds in Mindanao.
Vo was seized last November along with five other Vietnamese crew members of a vessel that was boarded by members of Abu Sayyaf off Sibago island in Basilan.
A statement issued by the Wesmincom based in Zamboanga City said the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers are holding a total of 26 hostages, including several foreigners, in Sulu and Basilan.
The Abu Sayyaf is known to behead its hostages unless ransom payments are made.
German national Jurgen Kantner, 70, was beheaded earlier this year after the kidnappers' demand for 30 million pesos ($600,000) was not met.
Last year, the Abu Sayyaf also beheaded two Canadian hostages.
The Abu Sayyaf, originally a loose network of terrorists formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, has splintered into factions, with some continuing to engage in banditry and kidnappings.
One faction led by Isnilon Hapilon has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, with members among those holding parts of Marawi, the largely Catholic nation's most important Islamic city, where the government has launched air strikes and deployed artillery and ground forces against them. – Rappler.com