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Abu Sayyaf leader dies in military rescue of Indonesian captive

THE PHILIPPINE military on Sunday said it had killed an Abu Sayyaf leader during rescue operations involving the last of five Indonesians abducted by the Islamic State-linked kidnap-for-ransom group in Jan. 2020.

Abu Sayyaf leader Majan Sahidjuan was killed during an encounter with government troops in Tawi-Tawi province in the nation’s south at the weekend, military commander Lt. Col. Venjie P. Pendon said in a statement.

“He was severely wounded during the encounter last night,” he said. “We tried to save him but his gunshot wounds were fatal.”

Government forces tracked Mr. Sahidjuan and two of his comrades in the village of Kalupag Island in Tawi-Tawi after locals reported the presence of suspicious armed men in the area.

The two fled during Saturday’s encounter, taking with them a 15-year old Indonesian kidnap victim. The victim was rescued on Sunday morning, Lt. Gen. Corleto S. Vinluan, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said in the statement.

Troops rescued three other Indonesian captives on Thursday after the boat they were in capsized near Pasigan Island in Tawi-Tawi. Two Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders were captured.

The Abu Sayyaf men were trying to evade military pursuit operations in Sulu, the stronghold of the bandits.

The first three victims told the military one of them was killed by their captors while trying to escape during an encounter between their kidnappers and government forces in Patikul, Sulu in September. They were kidnapped in January last year from a vessel in waters off Malaysia.

Military commander Brig. Gen. Arturo G. Rojas said they had been on alert since Thursday and the information they got from locals helped a lot. — Maria Filomena S. Jara

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