MANILA, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Philippine troops rescued before dawn on Sunday two Indonesian fishermen who had been abducted in September by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the waters off Lahad Datu in Malaysia close to the sea border with southern Philippines.
The two rescued Indonesian hostages, Marahudin Lunani and Samion Bin Maniue, were among the three missing Indonesian fishermen snatched by masked gunmen in two pump boats that boarded two fishing vessels on Sept. 23. Malaysian police said the gunmen fired at the crew and ordered the three fishermen to board their getaway boats and fled to Sulu archipelago.
An Abu Sayyaf bandit and a soldier were killed and another soldier was wounded during the rescue operation around 5:00 a.m. local time on Sunday in the jungles of Panamao, a town in Sulu province, said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City.
Sobejana said the troops clashed twice with the kidnappers resulting in the killing of an Abu Sayyaf terrorist. An M16 assault rifle fitted with an M203 grenade launcher was recovered from the slain bandit, he said.
According to Sobejana, the third kidnapped Indonesian, Muhammas Farhan, was with the Indonesians during the firefight. Sobejana expressed optimism that the troops will also rescue Farhan anytime soon.
Already, Sobejana said he ordered the deployment of more troops in the area to rescue the remaining Indonesian kidnap victim.
Aside from the remaining Indonesian kidnap victim, the military said a Filipino is being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Abu Sayyaf Group is considered the smallest but the most violent of the extremist groups in the southern Philippines. The group, which has estimated 400 fighters, is active in the impoverished island provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
The group is responsible for a series of kidnappings-for-ransom, deadly bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion in the southern Philippines.