KUALA LUMPUR • Five Malaysian sailors have been rescued from the clutches of the Abu Sayyaf group, the Malaysian government announced yesterday.
Two were flown from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, where they were reunited with their families at Prime Minister Najib Razak's residence.
The sailors were abducted last July by the Abu Sayyaf, a militant kidnapping group that sometimes beheads its captives, from a tugboat in waters off Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Mr Abd Rahim Summas, 62, and Mr Tayudin Anjut, 42, met Datuk Seri Najib yesterday. They were rescued last Thursday in Jolo, in the southern Philippines.
"We are grateful that they are back after eight months and have safely returned to their families," Mr Najib said, expressing his gratitude to the Philippine government. "They explained the sufferings they went through and I heard the pressure the families had to undergo during the period of their detention."
He said Mr Tayudin has eyesight difficulties and will require surgery, while Mr Abd Rahim is unable to walk due to problems with his leg.
They will be treated at Selayang Hospital, just outside Kuala Lumpur, Mr Najib said.
Mr Tayudin said that the hostages were frequently moved from place to place by the Abu Sayyaf.
"We were always moved at night so we didn't know where we were going or what was happening. So we didn't even realise that we were separated from the other three and that we were being rescued by the army," he said.
The Malaysian government said yesterday that the three other hostages were found in Jolo on Sunday, safe and unharmed.
Philippine military chief Eduardo Ano said in a statement: "We have successfully rescued the remaining three Malaysian hostages or kidnap victims last night at about 11pm."
General Ano added: "So you now see the psychological level of our enemies. I think these are working: military pressure, denial of ransom money. They left the hostages because they saw the overwhelming number of our troops."
The trio rescued were Mr Fandy Bakran, 27, Mr Mohd Jumadil Rahim 24, and Mr Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33. They were to be flown to Manila and then to Malaysia.
With the release of the five men, Gen Ano said that the Abu Sayyaf still has 20 foreigners and seven Filipinos hostage.
The group has sworn its allegiance to the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK