ASSAULTING government troops increased the pressure on the extremist Abu Sayyaf, killing over a dozen of its members and allowing two coast guards from Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental to free themselves from the group that held them captive for months.
Capt. Antonio Bulao, Joint Task Group Sulu spokesperson, said the two Abu Sayyaf captives––Coast Guard SN1 Rod Allain Pagaling and SN2 Gringo Villaruz––are now safe.
Task group commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said the coast guards saw freedom a day after the military launched an offensive, killing at least 15 Abu Sayyaf members in Indanan, Sulu.
Capt. Bulao claimed government forces rescued Pagaling and Villaruz at the height of fierce clashes yesterday morning.
The Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported that the two Coast Guard personnel were rescued one after the other in Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu.
The PNA reported that troops were able to rescue first SN2 Villaruz at around 7 am, and SN1 Pagaling was followed an hour later.
Bulao said the two were immediately taken to a hospital in Camp Gen. Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, the capital of Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf abducted the two Coast Guard personnel in Aliguay, Dapitan City in May 4. A third captive, Aliguay barangay chairman Rodolfo Boligao, was beheaded in Aug. 11 or earlier.
Villaruz and Pagaling were in Aliguay Island to keep an eye on motorboats ferrying tourists from and to the island.
The PNA also reported that at least 15 Abu Sayyaf men were killed during the encounter at Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan town, Sulu on Wednesday afternoon.
Brig. Gen. Arrojado said the Wednesday encounter took place at 5:25 p.m.
He said the soldiers from 1st Scout Ranger Battalion under Lt. Col. Eugene Boquio were conducting “focused military operations” in the area when they clashed with some 80 Abu Sayyaf men led by Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya.
The encounter scene is near a known Moro National Liberation Front stronghold where Nur Misuari is allegedly staying. In the ensuing firefight, 15 Abu Sayyaf men were killed. The military claimed it suffered no casualties and losses. Artillery fire was also provided to government troops.
Arrojado said the remains of five of Abu Sayyaf members were found along with three firearms.