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Vietnamese hostage rescued in Philippines

Zamboanga (Philippines): Philippine troops have rescued a Vietnamese sailor held hostage for seven months by militants in the country’s south, according to the military.

Hoang Vo, 28, was rescued by troops on Friday after an airstrike and artillery fire on an Abu Sayyaf camp in the island of Basilan dispersed the kidnappers, regional military spokesman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said yesterday.

She said the sailor was being treated for an unspecified wound on his back.

There is no way to independently verify the military’s account of the rescue.

The Abu Sayyaf network has been kidnapping foreigners and locals for years and holding them for ransom on its remote island strongholds in the southern Philippines.

Vo was seized last November along with five other Vietnamese crew members of a vessel that was boarded by the militants off Sibago island in the southern region of Mindanao.

A statement issued by the military’s regional command based in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga said Abu Sayyaf militants were holding 26 hostages, including several foreigners, in Sulu and Basilan.

The Abu Sayyaf is known to behead its hostages unless ransom payments are made.

The 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. — AFP