JOLO, Philippines (AP) — Two Malaysian sailors held captive for eight months by Muslim militants were rescued Thursday in the southern Philippines, military officials said.
The two were weak and sick when marines rescued them from Abu Sayyaf militants before dawn in waters near Sulu province's Pata Island, said Major Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., a regional military commander.
They were taken to a military hospital for a checkup.
Tayudin Anjut, 45, and Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, were among five Malaysian tugboat crewmen kidnapped in July off Malaysia's Sabah state near the southern Philippines.
Officials said the two were abandoned without a fight by their captors as a naval patrol closed in.
Abu Sayyaf militants survive mostly on ransom kidnappings, extortion and other acts of banditry, targeting slow-moving tugboats in the busy sea bordering the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
At least 28 hostages, many of them foreign crewmen, remain in the hands of different Abu Sayyaf factions, officials say.
Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen on board a speedboat, meanwhile, attacked a tugboat towing a Panamanian-flagged ship and abducted two of its crewmen Thursday off Basilan province, in the latest in the wave of kidnappings, a Philippine coast guard official said.
Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea said the still-unidentified attackers abducted the tugboat skipper, Aurelio Agacat, and chief engineer, Laurencio Tiro, but left behind nine other crewmembers of the Super Shuttle Tug 1 and 31 crewmembers of the much bigger ship that was being towed, M/V Super Shuttle Roro 9.
The gunmen fled with their two captives and were being pursued by government forces, Dagalea said.