Colonel Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the attackers withdrew when troops stationed nearby reinforced the handful of militiamen and village watchmen who engaged the gunmen. So far, he is said to be in remarkable condition despite his ordeal, officials said.
Do Trung Hieu along with five other crew of M/V Royal 16 crew members - identified as Pham Minh Tuan, Tran Khac Dung, Hoang Trung Thong, Hoang Van Hai, and Huang Vo - were abducted by the group of Sulu-based sub-leader Alvin "Arab Puti" Yusop, Alhabsy Misaya and Basilan-based sub-leader Radzmil "Kubayb" Jannatul while sailing near Sibago Island, Basilan on November 11, 2016.
Since then, an intensified military crackdown led to the death of Misaya.
"They are cowards because they couldn't face their military adversaries", said Hataman. "When our forces engaged them in a 45-minute firefight and they felt our numbers and volume of fire they backed away and fled", Cundo said.
One Vietnamese escaped from the Abu Sayyaf in June but two others were found beheaded last month in Basilan.
Garcia, who was hit in the leg, said his driver was among those killed.
In all, more than 20 people, including 14 foreigners, are still being held, some for as long as three years, by the Abu Sayyaf.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire southern region under military rule, but nearly 100 days of intense clashes and air bombardments have failed to dislodge the group from Marawi, a once prosperous city of more than 200,000 that has been transformed into a virtual wasteland.
As of Sunday, the military said 583 militants and 129 soldiers have been killed along with 45 civilians, while dozens are believed held hostage, including a Catholic priest.
Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional police, said the gunmen burned several houses and a health center when they raided Barangay Tubigon at around 6 a.m. yesterday.
Reported byBenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.