Southern Philippines army rescued three Vietnamese from Islamists

Philippine Marine Special Operation Group (MARSOG) stands on attention during their send-off ceremony ending their combat duty against pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a military headquarters in Marawi city, southern Philippines October 21, 2017, a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the liberation of Marawi city. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Vastavam web: Three Vietnamese sailors held for eight months by Islamist gunmen have been rescued by soldiers in the southern Philippines, the army said today, in the latest operation against the kidnap-for-ransom militants.The sailors were found in the southernmost island group of Tawi-Tawi yesterday along with the body of another Vietnamese seaman who had died in captivity from an illness, regional military commander Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez said.The Vietnamese sailors were among the crew of a cargo vessel captured in February in the seas off the southern Philippines and held by the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic extremist group blamed for kidnappings, piracy and bombings in the area.

Galvez said the Abu Sayyaf are still holding a number of Filipino and foreign hostages including Ewold Horn, a Dutch bird-watcher abducted in 2012.Abu Sayyaf, originally a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, has splintered into factions, with some continuing to engage in banditry and kidnappings.The gunmen are known to behead their captives if ransom demands are not met.German national Jurgen Kantner, 70, was beheaded in February after the kidnappers’ demand for 30 million pesos was not met.