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Philippines Rescues British Man, Wife Held by ISIS-Linked Militants

Philippines Rescues British Man, Wife Held by ISIS-Linked Militants

Monday, 25 November, 2019 - 10:45
Government soldiers stand guard in front of damaged building and houses in Sultan Omar Dianalan boulevard at Mapandi district in Marawi city, southern Philippines September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine soldiers on Monday rescued a British man and his Filipino wife from ISIS-linked militants nearly two months after the couple were kidnapped from their beach resort in the nation's south, authorities said.

Troops recovered the pair after a firefight with gunmen from the Abu Sayyaf group on the restive southern island of Jolo, which is a stronghold of the kidnap-for-ransom gang that has been behind some of the worst attacks in the Philippines.

"There was a brief exchange of fire, but they later abandoned the couple after being overwhelmed by pursuing government forces," Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana told AFP.

Regional army spokesman Arvin Encinas said no ransom was paid. 

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the rescue of the couple, saying "both Alan and Wilma Hyrons are safe and well, and being looked after by the Philippine authorities."

"We worked closely with the Government of the Philippines on Alan and Wilma's case over the last two months," he added in a statement.

Armed men abducted the couple on October 4 as some villagers watched in shock at a beach resort on the southern island of Mindanao, which makes up the southern third of the Philippines.

Troops killed a “high-value” but little-known Abu Sayyaf commander, Talha Jumsah, on Friday near Sulu’s mountainous Patikul town. Jumsah acted as a key link of ISIS to local militants and helped set up a series of deadly suicide attacks in Sulu this year.

Dutch birdwatcher Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in 2012 in the southern Philippines, was killed in May during a firefight between his Abu Sayyaf captors and the military. 

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