Pursuing troops of the Joint Task Force Basilan under Col Juvymax Uy with joint elements of the Naval-Intelligence Special Group-Western Mindanao, successfully rescued kidnap victim Aurelio Agac-ac at the seawaters off Barangay Basakan, Hadji Mohammed Ajul (HMA), Basilan Province at 5:30 this morning (March 25).
The soldiers who are after the ASG-KFRG for two (2) days now since the incident, are tracking the location and possible areas where the kidnappers brought and hid the victims. Coordinations with local officials and communities coupled with the continuing pressure brought about by the presence of the troops in the areas believed to be where the sailors where initially hidden, resulted to the rescue of Agac-ac.
The rescued tugboat Captain was immediately brought to Camp Navarro General Hospital for medical check-up after he was rescued. After the the bandits snatched Agac-ac and Tiro last Thursday afternoon (March 23) from the Tugboat towing the Panamanian-registered cargo vessel, Super Shuttle, Ro-Ro9, in Sibago island, a kidnapper-Abu Sayyaf member Jaudi Salupuddin was killed after engaging in a gun battle with elements of the 19th Special Forces Company, 4th Special Forces Battalion in Basilan.
Salupuddin was among the group who forcibly took Agac-ac and Tiro, and was hit by bullets of the pursuing aerial assets who were attempting to pre-empt the kidnappers escape. Also recovered, as a result of the said operation, were an M16 with two (2) short magazines and a motorized banca.
At around 4pm (March 23), sailors aboard a naval vessel on maritime blockade along the coast of Al-Barka also seized two (2) pump boats belonging to the kidnappers. At 8am yesterday (March 24), pursuing troops recovered one (1) colored light blue bote-bote type banca (10-person capacity) and one (1) colored yellow outrigger type banca (4-person capacity) at Sitio Kapago, Brgy Candiis, Tuburan.
Both boats were already without engines and were positively identified as the ones used in the recent kidnapping. “The rescue of Aurelio Agac-ac is a result of a combined effort of the troops, the PNP, BPATs, CVOs, local government and the community,”says Major General Carlito G Galvez, Jr, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City.
“We acknowledge the growing awareness and support of the people in this fight against the Abu Sayyaf. Due recognition is also given to Governor Hataman of Basilan for his unrelenting efforts to rescue the sailor.”
“Again, Western Mindanao Command will exhaust all means to track these kidnappers and rescue the other victims. This time, the effort will be stronger as it is backed by the peace-loving people of Western Mindanao,” MGEN Galvez added.
As of press time, troops are on continuing pursuit operations and maritime interdiction to rescue Tiro and the other kidnap victims held captive by the ASG-KFRG.