Vietnamese hostages rescued by Philippine troops

Philippine troops have rescued three Vietnamese sailors who were abducted by Islamist militants nine months ago in southern waters near the Malaysian border, an army spokeswoman said at the weekend.

Four Vietnamese sailors were found on a remote island in Tawi-tawi, but one was already dead from illness, Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay said. She said Philippines marines were pursuing a small group of militants who had fled and abandoned the captives.

Of the 17 Vietnamese sailors abducted in February, 10 were rescued in earlier operations and two were killed by the militants while attempting to escape, Petinglay said. The rest were brought to nearby Jolo island.

The militants were still holding 16 captives on Jolo island, including seven foreigners, including a Dutch and a Japanese national, the Philippines military said.