Army officials announced on Monday, November 25, that one British national and one Filipino national held by the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Sulu region have been released following an operation conducted in the evening (local time) on Sunday, November 24. The couple was kidnapped in the neighboring province of Zamboanga del Sur (Southwest Mindanao) on Friday, October 4.
Further military operations are likely in the Sulu region over the near term.
Kidnapping is common in the southern Philippines where insurgent groups are known for kidnapping people for ransom.
Abu Sayyaf is a radical Islamist group and Islamic State (IS) affiliate that has been involved for years in kidnappings, bombings, and various other violent activities in southern and western Philippines, particularly in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawa-Tawa, and Palawan. The group is known to conduct kidnapping raids and is estimated to have ten hostages, including four foreign nationals. The Filipino military has reportedly foiled abduction plots on Palawan by the group in the past.
Individuals in the southern Philippines are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant and criminal activity, anticipate continued military operations, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. As a reminder, several Western governments advise against travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago due to the risk of kidnapping and terrorism.