MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — A British businessman and his Filipina wife were rescued on Monday, nearly 2 months after they were kidnapped Islamic State-linked militants in the nation's south, officials said.
Soldiers freed Allan and Wilma Hyrons after a firefight with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mt. Piahan in Parang, Sulu, said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of military forces in the province.
The Hyrons were abducted from their beach resort in neighboring Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur on the night of Oct. 4.
Their captors did not get any ransom, said the military's Western Mindanao Command Spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas.
The British embassy in Manila confirmed the rescue of the Hyrons, saying in a statement: "We extend our gratitude to the government and authorities of the Philippines".
Muslim separatists have led a decades-long insurgency in the south of the Catholic-majority Philippines, which has led to the death of tens of thousands of people. Sulu, accessible by boat and ferry from the Zamboanga peninsula, is a known Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
While the government has negotiated peace with the largest group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, hardline factions allied with the Islamic State group are not part of the accord.
The IS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of a Sunday mass in January at a Catholic cathedral on Jolo which killed 21 in the country's worst attack in years.
Authorities blamed the bombing on Abu Sayyaf, which in part funds its violence with ransom payments.
Dutch birdwatcher Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in 2012 in the southern Philippines, was killed in May during a firefight between his Abu Sayyaf captors and the military. — With reports from Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse