JOLO, PHILIPPINES:  (FILES) Dated 27 May 2000 file picture shows Al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf gunmen guard a mosque in Bandang village, Jolo island where their leaders and group of negotiators meet for the release of 21 Asian and Western hostages.  Jolo, one of the Philippines southernmost islands boasts rich land and marine natural resources but serious peace and order problems have left the island mired in poverty. The Tausogs, the native Muslim tribes who make up the majority have  tradition for fierce martial courage and fondness for weaponry which has helped fuel the frequent explosions of violence in Jolo ranging from Muslim separatist wars, mass kidnapping campaigns, clan feuds and political disputes.   AFP PHOTO    ROMEO GACAD  (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
What is Abu Sayyaf?
01:07 - Source: CNN

Philippine troops have killed a leader of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group and rescued four Indonesian hostages held since last year, the military said on Sunday.

Majan Sahidjuan, alias Apo Mike, was severely wounded in a gunbattle with the marines on Saturday night in Languyan town in southern Tawi-Tawi province, and later died, said Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr.

He described Sahidjuan as the mastermind in several kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf, which is based in Sulu and has also been involved in bomb attacks and piracy for decades. Since 2014, it has proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.

“We are happy that all the hostages are safe now and we are also able to neutralize the notorious ‘Apo Mike’ and two of his comrades,” said Vinluan, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command.

Sahidjuan was among five Abu Sayyaf militants who went to Tawi-Tawi by boat from Sulu, with their four Indonesian kidnap victims last Thursday.

Their boat capsized after it was battered by big waves, giving government troops the chance to rescue three of the four hostages – Arizal Kasta Miran, 30; Arsad Bin Dahlan, 41; and Andi Riswanto, 26.

The fourth, 15-year-old Mohd Khairuldin, was found by government troops in the same village where the gunbattle took place.

The four hostages were among five Indonesians kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf on Jan. 17 last year off Tambisan in Malaysia. One of the five was killed while trying to escape.