1 of 2 European kidnapped bird watchers rescued

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – One of the two European bird watchers seized by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tawi-Tawi almost two years ago was rescued by government forces early Saturday, a military official disclosed.

Rescued was Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 49, a Swiss national.

Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command information officer, said Vinciguerra was rescued around 5:20 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Timpok, Patikul, Sulu.

Muyuela said Vinciguerra escaped from his captors while the latter were trying to evade artillery fire from the militar.

Vinciguerra reportedly hacked an Abu Sayyaf bandit but other members of the armed group shot and wounded him as he tried to flee. Soldiers later arrived and rescued him.

Muyuela said troops immediately brought Vinciguerra to the headquarters of the Joint Task Force Zambasulta in Jolo, the provincial capital, for treatment.

Vinciguerra along with Dutchman Ewold Horn, 52 and a Filipino bird watcher, Ivan Serenas, were returning to Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi, after bird watching activities in Panglima Sugala town when the bandits seized them in February 2012.

Serenas managed to escape while their two local guides were allowed to go home.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits transferred the two hostages sometime in March 2012 to Sulu.

It was not immediately known whether Vinciguerra and Horn were held captive together by one group.

Also on Saturday in Sulu, five Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while seven others were wounded in a clash in Barangay Bagsak, Talipao town.

Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, Joint Task Force Zambasulta information officer, said the firefight broke out around 7 a.m. Saturday.

Ramos said government troops chanced upon the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan while conducting law enforcement operations in Bagsak.

He said the military suffered no casualties.

He added the number of bandits killed and wounded was based on the testimony of the villagers. (MindaNews)