Three Abu Sayyaf hostages escape in Sulu

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Zamboanga City (CNN Philippines) — Three men escaped their Abu Sayyaf captors in Sulu after almost a month in captivity, the military said Friday.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu said the victims managed to escape while members of the Abu Sayyaf group were praying at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, and took refuge in Barangay Kagay in the town of Talipao, Sulu.

They were recovered by authorities Friday morning and took them into custody for medical examination and debriefing.  

They were identified as Jun Guerrero, 40; Jason Baylosis, 27; and Joel Adanza, 40.

JTF Sulu Commander BGen. Cirilito Sobejana said they were construction workers abducted last July 15 from Kampang Elementary School in Patikul, around 30 km away from where they were found in Talipao. They were with one other worker, believed to be still held captive by the Abu Sayyaf together with 15 foreign nationals.

Five Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in the town of Kalinangalan Caluang, also in Sulu on Thursday after a 30-minute firefight.

The military said Abu Sayyaf members are forced to move from one place to another, even to places where they do not have community support, as troops conduct heightened operations against lawless groups in Mindanao.

The Abu Sayyaf group is known for kidnap-for-ransom activities, and for beheading their hostages.

Zamboanga City-based journalist Liza Jocson contributed to this report.