Four Indonesians had been detained by a group known to have been kidnapped for ransom for more than a year.
Philippine troops killed a leader of the kidnapping for ransom group Abu Sayyaf and rescued four Indonesian hostages – one aged only 15 – who had been held for more than a year, the military said on Sunday.
Majan Sahidjuan, aka Apo Mike, was seriously injured in an exchange of gunfire with Marines on Saturday night in Languyan town, in southern Tawi-Tawi province, and later died, said Lieutenant-General Corleto Vinluan Jr.
He described Sahidjuan as the mastermind of several kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf, who is based in Sulu and has also been involved in bombings and piracy for decades. Since 2014, he has proclaimed his allegiance to the ISIL group (ISIS).
“We are happy that all the hostages are safe now and we are also able to neutralize the notorious ‘Apo Mike’ and two of his comrades,” said Vinluan, commander of the military command in Western Mindanao.
Sahidjuan was among five Abu Sayyaf operatives who traveled to Tawi-Tawi by boat from Sulu, along with their four Indonesian kidnapping victims last Thursday.
Their boat capsized after being battered by heavy waves, giving government troops the chance to rescue three of the four hostages – Arizal Kasta Miran, 30; Arsad Bin Dahlan, 41; and Andi Riswanto, 26.
The fourth, Mohd Khairuldin, 15, was found by government troops in the same village where the shooting took place.
The four hostages were among five Indonesians kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf on January 17 last year off Tambisan in Malaysia. One of the five was killed while trying to escape.