Two Indonesian fishermen kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants were released by their captors Saturday evening, police said.
The fishermen were handed over by concerned citizens to Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan Sr. at his residence at Brgy. Asturias, Jolo at about 7 p.m. Friday night.
They were identified as La Utu Bin La Raali and La Hadi La Edi, captains of fishing vessels, SSK 00520 and SN 11554 respectively, owned by Ching Kai Ling Company.
The Indonesians were cruising off Pegasus Reef and Kuala Kinabatangan near Taganak Island in Tawi-Tawi last Nov. 5, 2016 when they were snatched by armed bandits believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf.
Senior Supt. Mario Buyuccan, police provincial director of Sulu, said Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of Task Force Sulu, went to the house of Gov. Tan and fetched the victims hours after their release.
Buyuccan said the fishermen underwent medical examination and debriefing at Camp Teodolfo Bautista in Bus Bus, Jolo, Sulu.
No specific details were provided on the circumstances of the Indonesians’ release.
The ASG were reportedly forced to free the fishermen following intensified military operations against the terrorist group, who saw majority of their members decimated as they participated in the Marawi City siege.
At least 974 ISIS-inspired Maute Group and ASG members were killed, including the Abu Sayyaf chieftain and emir of Islamic State in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, with Maute leader Omarkhayam Maute and his brother Abdullah, leading to the liberation of the Islamic City Oct. 23 following five months of intense battles.
The ASG bandits are still holding nearly two dozen kidnap victims, including some foreigners believed to be kept somewhere in the Sulu and Basilan jungles.