Philippine soldiers rescued one of two Filipino cargo ship crewmen on Saturday who were kidnapped just two days ago by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, a security official said. Colonel Juvymax Uy, commander of the military's 104th Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan said the troops recovered Aurelio Agacac, the ship captain, in the remote village of Basakan in the southern Philippine province of Basilan.
Agacac was abducted by the militants along with his companion Laurencio Tiro from a cargo ship off Basilan on Thursday. The incident took place just hours after the soldiers rescued two Malaysians held for about eight months on a southern island.
According to Uy, the abductors were forced to abandon Agacac to delay the pursuing troops and evade a firefight. "The victim looked alright," he told Reuters.
During the pursuit, the soldiers have also captured a wounded suspect, who died while being transported to the hospital in Basilan. However, the authorities have not confirmed that the kidnappers were members of the Abu Sayyaf group.
The Abu Sayyaf group, linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is an insurgent group known for kidnapping, beheadings, bombings and extortion for ransom. It has defied more than a decade of US-backed military offensives against it. In recent years, the group has conducted a lucrative kidnapping spree.
The militants are still holding a number of Filipino and foreign nationals captive, including some Indonesians and Malaysians. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to impose martial law in the south, home to the majority of Filipino Muslims, to address the security problem there.