Philippine security forces have rescued three Malaysian sailors kidnapped by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf while two others were released last week, said official Malaysian sources Monday.
The Eastern Security Command of Sabah, a Malaysian state on Borneo Island, confirmed to official news agency Bernama that the rescue of the three hostages took place Sunday night during a Philippine Army operation on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines.
On the same island, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold, Philippine marines rescued two other hostages Thursday while they were pursuing a group of between 20 and 30 rebels.
The five sailors were kidnapped in July when their boat was assaulted near Lahad Datu on the east coast of Sabah by Abu Sayyaf, which demanded around $2 million in ransom.
On Saturday Philippine security forces also released on Basilan island, north of Jolo, a freight ship captain abducted and taken hostage Thursday.
Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped dozens of people, mostly the crew members of vessels, in the southwestern Philippines and northeastern Malaysia.
The group, which sympathizes with the Islamic State and uses ransom money to finance their activities, last month beheaded a German hostage after the ransom deadline expired. Roughly 30 people, including foreigners of various nationalities, are still under thee control of Abu Sayyaf.