With a courageous get-away easily worthy of any high-budget action film, Swiss national, Lorenzo Vinciguerra, 49, pulled off an incredible escape from the Filipino extremist group Abu Sayyaf on Saturday.
Vinciguerra, who has being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf for two years, made his escape as government forces were firing artillery rounds near the mountainous jungle forest town of Patikul, in the southern Phillipines, reports the Associated Press.
Seizing the moment as the Abu Sayyaf extremists were perhaps preoccupied with the shelling, Lorenzo Vinciguerra got a hold of a long knife, hacked one of the Abu Sayyaf rebel commanders, and made a run for it through the falling military shells.
Though shot and wounded by another militant, according to security officials, the Swiss hostage was able to continue his flight and was later found by Philippine army scout rangers who ushered him to safety.
“He was wounded, but he’s well and recovering in a hospital,” said Lt. General Rustico Guerrero.
Swiss government officials were of course happy to receive the news of Vinciguerra’s escape, but their celebration was tempered by the fact that his Dutch companion, Ewold Horn, was still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf militants.
From a military combat hospital bed, Vinciguerra expressed his on-going concern for Horn.
“I talked to him and asked him to join me, but he refused,” said Vinciguerra, trying to get Horn to go with him during the escape. But he also noted that the Dutchman had teeth problems and some other health issues that may have hindered his ability to make a run for it.
At the same time, Lorenzo Vinciguerra, with bandages wrapping his head, relished his escape and new freedom, also thanking the military. That he is now going to be able to spend Christmas with his family topped Vinciguerra’s long list of reasons for being happy.
Despite Horn still being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippine jungle, Vinciguerra believes the extremist militants will treat Horn well. He also gave a shout out to the Abu Sayyaf militants that they should just give it up, get out of the jungle and get on with their lives.
“My final message to everybody (is) Put the gun down and come out from the forest. It’s a nice life out here.”
Vinciguerra was taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf militants in February 2012 during a bird-watching trip with Horn. Also with them and taken hostage was fellow birdwatcher, Ivan Sarenas, a Filipino who was acting as their guide.
Sarenas, a tri-athlete, was able to escape soon after they were caught, diving off the boat that was transporting the hostages to an Abu Sayyaf safehold. Sarenas, though sad Vinciguerra was wounded, said he was happy for Vinceguerra’s escape. He too, however, was also disappointed that Horn was still being held.
“It is not the best news, but it still is good news after so long,” Sarenas told he Associated Press. “I just want to hug Lorenzo for now.”
Sarenas said he was determined to escape as soon as they were captured, and that Vinciguerra and Horn supported his plan. When he got his chance, Sarenas took it and dove deep underwater, fearing he’d be shot, but wasn’t, and later picked up by some fishermen.
An al-Qaida-inspired group, Abu Sayyaf has been active since the early 1990s, and is a small but violent Islamist militant group that operates in the southern Philippines, reports the BBC.
They released two German hostages in October after holding them for six months.
Image via BBC