4 bandits killed, one Indon hostage drowns, another rescued in Sulu
AN Indonesian hostage of the Abu Sayyaf Group drowned while four of his captors died and another victim was rescued in a firefight between government forces and the escaping bandits the other day in Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.
This was confirmed yesterday by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman Colonel Gerry Besana.
Besana said three of the four fatalities were recovered by government forces while another was left at the encounter site.
The kidnap victim who drowned was identified as certain Hariadin, an Indonesian fisherman, while rescued was Heri Ardiansyah, also an Indonesian.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the firefight occurred at around 5:45 pm in the seawaters off Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.
Combined elements of Philippine Marines Ready Force Sulu (PMRFS) and Naval Task Group Sulu (NTGS) were on patrol in the northwest portion of the waters off Simusa Island when they spotted the escaping ASG members with the victims.
The report said the ASG used makeshift flotation devices to cross the channel towards Bangalao Island and escape, but when they saw the patrolling government forces they immediately opened fire triggering the battle.
The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes.
The Marines tried to resuscitate and revive the drowning victim but to no avail. The hostage victims had endured 41 days of captivity and being moved around Simusa Island by the bandits evading pursuing government troops.
Recovered on the makeshift boats were two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles and one. M203 grenade launcher.
The troops failed to recover the other slain bandits due to the strong sea current in the area.
The rescued kidnap victim was brought to Camp Navarro Station Hospital in Zamboanga City via Philippine Navy ship, for medical check-up and disposition.
Earlier, troops also rescued a Malaysian kidnap victim who was shot by the bandits and was brought to the intensive care unit of West Metro Medical Center in Zamboanga City.
BGen Divino Rey C Pabayo Jr, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu commended the troops for their successful rescue operation.
“I am proud of the troop’s commitment and dedication to triumph against the ASG, especially with the recovery of the kidnapped victims. But also, I am saddened because of some uncontrollable circumstances, we lost one of them during the rescue operation,” he said.