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Kidnapped doctor rescued in Sulu


A doctor who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Jolo, Sulu last month was successfully rescued by the military in Indanan, Sulu last Tuesday night after seven weeks in captivity.

Dr. Daniel Moreno was deliberately left by his captors in the hinterlands of Barangay Bangalan before he was saved by the Philippine Army’s 11th Military Intelligence Battalion under the operational supervision of the 1102nd Brigade at around 7:30 p.m.

He was abducted by four armed men in Barangay Walled City in Jolo last Feb. 4.

“Ang nangyari, parang release then rescue,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command.

Sobejana said they received an intelligence report on the presence of the group that abducted Moreno and five other Indonesian fishermen in Barangay Bangalan.

The troops immediately conducted a hot pursuit operation until they detected the movement of the group which was under the command of Mundi Sawadjaan, nephew of ASG commander Hajan Sawadjaan, who is the designated emir or leader for Islamic State’s operations in Southeast Asia.

The troops found Moreno alone and escorted him to a safe place, Sobejana said.

Sobejana thought that Moreno was abandoned by the ASG because he was slowing the movement of the militant group while they were being chased by the military.

“Ang nakikita naming dahilan kung bakit nirelease dahil nga sinundan ng sinundan ng tropa. Considering the age and health condition of the doctor, siguro may kabagalan ‘yung kanilang movement,” he said.

Backup teams ran after the group to rescue the Indonesian fishermen but a five-minute running gun battle ensued between the two groups. The ASG rebels eventually abandoned the firefight.

Sobejana said the group initially demanded a P3-million ransom from the family of Moreno which they failed to provide since no proof of life was given by the ASG.

“According to the family, wala silang binayad na ransom although may demand. Nagkukumahog sila na maghanap ng pera pero sabi nila hindi nila naibigay,” he said.

After his rescue, Moreno was transferred to a military hospital in Barangay Busbus, Jolo for a medical check-up. He was also subjected to custodial debriefing and documentation before he was turned over to his family.

Sobejana said the doctor is in good condition.

Troops are pursuing the captors of the five Indonesian fishermen who were abducted while fishing near the coast of Malaysia last Jan. 16.