MANILA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Philippine marine troops on Thursday rescued two Malaysian men held hostage by militants group of Abu Sayyaf for eight months in the seas off one of the remote islands of Sulu province in southern Philippines.
Maj. Carlito Galvez, commander of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement that the troops rescued Malaysians Tayudin Arjut, 45, and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, around 2 a.m. on Thursday off Pata Island in Sulu.
Arjut and Sumas were among the five Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung 3 who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf bandits on July 19 last year in the waters off Dent Haven, Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah. They were reported missing after their boat and barge were found without crew members in Tanjubf Labian, Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Galvez said the rescued hostages were weak and "in a sickly state" when they were rescued. "Military doctors are now attending to them in the Sulu hospital," he said.
He said marine troops were sent to the area after the military received information that the Abu Sayyaf leader Alhabsy Misaya was hiding in the mangroves with about 30 other bandit members.
The military said the Abu Sayyaf group is still holding at least two dozens of foreign and Filipino kidnap victims believed to be in Sulu, their bailiwick.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf militants notorious for criminal and terror activities in the southern Philippines, including bombings, murder and kidnap for ransom.
Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent bandit groups operating in southern Philippines.
The group, numbering about 500, has been sowing terror in the southern Philippine region since the early 1990s.