On Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that the remaining three Malaysian crewmembers of the tug Serudung have been rescued from the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
"We have successfully rescued the remaining three Malaysian hostages or kidnap victims last night. About 11:30 PM, our Joint Task Force Sulu under Colonel Cirilito Sobejana rescued the three Malaysian hostages in Barangay Punay, Panglima Estino, Sulu," said General Eduardo Año, in a statement to Philippine media.
The latest rescue comes just one day after the escape of Captain Aurelio Agac-ic of the ro/ro Super Shuttle Roro 9, who was kidnapped along with his chief engineer last Thursday. It also follows shortly after the release of the two other crewmembers of the Serudung, Abdul Rahim Summas, 62, and Tayudin Anjut, 45.
Sumas and Anjut have returned to Malaysia, and they recounted a harrowing tale of captivity in an interview with the Borneo Post. Tayudin now has difficulty seeing, and Abdul Rahim cannot walk; both men were tortured and will require medical treatment. They were kept tied up when they weren't working for the Abu Sayyaf fighters, and they were deprived of food and fresh water.
Tayudin said that they escaped with the assistance of local villagers, who brought them by boat to the Philippine military. “That night, we did not know that we were being saved, just like our three friends,” he told the Borneo Post.
The Philippine military has mounted an all-out offensive against the terrorist group in Sulu and Basilan, and it claims that it is near to bringing Abu Sayyaf's 26-year reign of terror to a close. General Año said that the AFP deserves credit for the recent releases: "We expect that this will continue and the Abu Sayyaf will just release their remaining hostages, because we will continue to pursue them," he said Monday. The latest series of rescues and escapes brings Abu Sayyaf's hostage count down to 27 people, the majority of them seafarers.