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British couple RESCUED from ISIS jihadists in Philippines

British man and his wife are rescued from #ISIS jihadists two months after they were kidnapped from beach resort in Philippines.

Allan Hyrons and his Filipina wife Wilma were freed by Philippine troops on the island of Jolo after a shoot-out with gunmen from the Abu Sayyaf group.

‘There was a brief exchange of fire, but they later abandoned the couple after being overwhelmed by pursuing government forces,’ said lieutenant general Cirilito Sobejana.

The Hyrons were not hurt in the 10-minute firefight, the military said, adding that no ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf militants.

Safety: The British man and his Filipina wife at a military camp where they will undergo a medical checkup and be interviewed by military officials
Safety: The British man and his Filipina wife at a military camp where they will undergo a medical checkup and be interviewed by military officials
Hostages: Allan Hyrons, 70, and his wife Wilma were abducted by armed militants on the island of Mindanao on October 4
Hostages: Allan Hyrons, 70, and his wife Wilma were abducted by armed militants on the island of Mindanao on October 4

The British embassy in Manila confirmed the rescue of Allan and Wilma Hyrons this morning.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the couple were ‘safe and well’, adding: ‘We worked closely with the Government of the Philippines on Alan and Wilma’s case over the last two months.

‘I am very grateful for their tremendous efforts. We are in particular grateful to their Armed Forces for their courage throughout a difficult operation which resulted in Alan and Wilma’s release.’

An unshaven Mr Hyrons and his wife were pictured having a meal at a military camp on Sulu island following their rescue today.

Sobejana, the lieutenant general, said the couple will undergo a medical checkup and will be interviewed by military officials.

The couple had been abducted by armed militants on the island of Mindanao on October 4.

Locals watched in shock as a group of armed men kidnapped them from a hut at nightfall and dragged them to two motorboats in the town of Tukuran.

The abduction sparked a massive search in the region, with a reward of one million pesos (£15,688) for information.

The couple also owned a college in Tukuran in the province in Zamboanga del Norte, where they have lived for years.

Troops recovered the pair today on the restive southern island of Jolo, which is a stronghold of the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf gang that has been behind some of the worst attacks in the Philippines.

Some hostages have been held for years and even beheaded when ransom was not paid, among them a German and two Canadians.

The group is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by both the Philippines and the United States.

The couple had been dragged to two motorboats in Tukuran town (pictured) in Zamboanga del Sur province and separated before being sped off in different directions
The couple had been dragged to two motorboats in Tukuran town (pictured) in Zamboanga del Sur province and separated before being sped off in different directions
British couple RESCUED from ISIS jihadists in Philippines
The provincial government in the province of Zamboanga del Sur had offered a reward of one million pesos (£15,688) for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the kidnappers

Military offensives against groups such as the Abu Sayyaf have reduced abductions in recent years, but they continue to occur.

Troops killed a ‘high-value’ but little-known Abu Sayyaf commander, Talha Jumsah, on Friday near Sulu’s mountainous Patikul town.

Soldiers also killed five Abu Sayyaf militants, including two commanders, on Sunday in a separate clash in Sulu.

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.

While the government has negotiated peace with the largest group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, hardline factions allied with ISIS are not part of the accord.

ISIS 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.