SULU – Abu Sayyaf rebels have freed 3 kidnapped Malaysian sailors in the southern Philippines where security forces are battling the ISIS-affiliated jihadist group blamed for the spate of cross-border attacks in Malaysia.
The trio - Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, Fandy Bakran, 27, and Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 24 - were released late Sunday in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. Two of their companions - Abd Rahim Summas, 63, and Tayudin Anjut, 46, - were also released by the Abu Sayyaf on March 23 and had returned home on Sunday.
The sailors – tugboat crew of Serudong Tiga - were all kidnapped at sea off Sabah’s Lahad Datu town in July 18. It was unknown if Malaysia or their employer paid ransoms to the Abu Sayyaf, but the jihadist group had originally demanded P30 million ransom for each of the sailors.
The Philippine military insisted that troops rescued the sailors. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least 2 dozen more Asian sailors kidnapped off the provinces Muslim province of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sabah. (Mindanao Examiner)