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ZAMBOANGA CITY – An Indonesian hostage by the pro-ISIS group Abu Sayyaf had died while his compatriot was rescued by Filipino soldiers during a firefight with militants on Simisa Island, about 30 nautical miles from the southern province of Sulu, officials said Saturday.

Officials said the 45-year Hariadin drowned while escaping from the fighting and his companion Heri Ardiansyah, 19, was recovered by soldiers. The duo along with Malaysian fisherman Jari Abdullah, 24, were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in December off Sabah and brought them to the forested island where security forces had been pursuing them since last month.

Abdullah was also recovered by soldiers on April 4 on the island following a firefight between security forces and militants.

Troops from the Philippine Marine Ready Fleet Sulu rescued Indonesian captives Heri Ardiansyah and Hariadin after engaging three Abu Sayyaf militants under Najir Arik. Hariadin, however, died due to drowning.”

“The Joint Task Force Sulu said the engaged militants and the captives tried to swim across the channel towards Bangalao Island to escape from the pursuing troops when they were spotted by the roving sea patrols,” the Western Mindanao Command said.

It said 3 militants were killed by soldiers in the fighting and recovered their bodies and four automatic rifles and a grenade launcher. “The 10-minute gun battle further resulted in the deaths of three Abu Sayyaf militants and the seizure of several high-powered firearms, including two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles, and an M203 Grenade Launcher,” the military said.

The rescued Indonesian fisherman and the body of Hariadin were brought to the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City. Security forces continue with the hunt for militants under Najir Arik on Simisa, according to Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, the regional military commander. “Marine troops constrict Abu Sayyaf’s movement with the all-out offensives launched to pound terrorists on the island,” he said.

While the hunt for militants continue on the island, fierce fighting on Sulu’s Patikul town had killed 3 soldiers and wounded over a dozen more on Friday after the army clashed with at least 50 militants led by Hajan Sawadjaan.

The operation is still on going in the town’s hinterlands where the Abu Sayyaf fighters broke into smaller groups. The town is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner and The Zamboanga Post)


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