Vietnamese hostage escapes as air, artillery strikes pound Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

June 17, 2017 - 11:30 AM
Medical personnel treat Vietnamese sailor Hoang Vo after he escaped his Abu Sayyaf captors in Basilan and was recovered by the military. (Westmincom photo handout)

MANILA, Philippines — A Vietnamese sailor held for more than seven months by the Abu Sayyaf escaped from his captors in Basilan as government forces pounded the extremists with air and artillery strikes Friday, the Western Mindanao Command said.

Hoang Vo, a crew member of the MV Royal 16, was recovered by troops of Joint Task Force Basilan at the Sumisip-Ungkaya Pukan Complex “following an airstrike launched against the group of Furudji Indama,” Westmincom said in a statement.

Vo was one of six crewmen of the MV Royal 16 who were seized southeast of Sibago Island in Basilan on November 11 last year. He was listed earlier by the Coast Guard as the second mate of the vessel.

“Vo, 28 years old and a resident of Nghe An, Vietnam, was found by our troops with a wound on his back,” TF Basilan commander Colonel Juvymax Uy said, adding the escaped hostage was in stable condition after being given medical attention.

The Vietnamese found his opportunity when his captors “dispersed due to the airstrike and artillery fires delivered by the troops.”

The soldiers also recovered four rifles.

The Abu Sayyaf is holding 26 captives, 21 in Sulu and five in Basilan.