A Swiss national abducted nearly three years ago by militants of the Philippine Islamist Abu Sayyaf group escaped from captivity Saturday after government troops attacked a camp where he was being held. Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 49, was one of two Europeans birdwatchers kidnapped by the militant group in February 2012 from an island in southern Philippines, according to media reports.
“He (Vinciguerra) found an opportunity to escape because of the running gun battle with our troops,” a Philippine military spokesperson told Agence France-Presse (AFP). The army had reportedly attacked an Abu Sayyaf training camp in the southern Sulu province early on Saturday.
Vinciguerra, who was reportedly shot by an Abu Sayyaf commander during his escape, was receiving treatment at a military hospital.
However, the spokesperson added that the other hostage, a Dutch national named Ewold Horn, had not been able to escape. As of now, Horn’s fate remains unclear.
The Abu Sayyaf group, which has been active in the southern islands of Philippines since early 1990s, has openly declared its support for the Islamic State. The militant group has reportedly been involved in a number of illegal activities, including kidnapping, extortion and drug-trafficking, to fund its operations.
In October, Abu Sayyaf had released two German hostages -- held by the group since April -- after receiving at least a part of the $5.6 million ransom demanded by it.