British businessman Allan Hyrons, 70, and his wife Wilma, a Filipina, were rescued on Monday morning after 52 days of captivity by the Abu Sayyaf militants. The elderly couple was abducted from their southern beach resort last month by gunmen and taken to the jungle hideouts of the local militants.
The Philippines forces were able to rescue the couple after a 10-minute gunfight with the militants in Mt.Piahan boundary of Barangays Silangkan and Taha in Parang, Sulu. The couple was taken at gunpoint by unidentified men on October 4 before being brought to different hideouts.
Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philipines's Western Mindanao Command, told a Philipines news agency that the troops had been in pursuit for three days straight and finally caught up with the militant group handling the Hyrons couple.
"There was a running gun battle," Sobejana said toAl- Jazeera. He further added that the militants left the two behind because they could not drag them anymore. The militant group went in different directions but they are still being tracked down.
A photo released by the AFP showed the couple smiling and in conversation with the forces from Sulu. The Hyrons were not hurt during the 10-minute exchange that took place. The couple will undergo medical checkups and interviews in the coming days.
Abu Sayyaf abductions
There has been a reduction in the abductions by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the past couple of years because of the military offensive in recent times. Abu Sayyaf militants have abducted for ransom in the past.
Sobejana also confirmed that the Indonesian fishermen abduction that happened recently of the coast of Malaysia was perpetrated by the ASG fighters in Sulu, Philipines. The ASG had staged abduction in and around the Sabah state in Indonesia which has escalated the threat perception in the region and caused unrest. Most of the factions of ASG has pledged itself to ISIL.