MANILA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine military said Monday it has rescued three Malaysian men held captive by the Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Sulu province.

Gen. Eduardo Ano, chief of staff of the armed forces of the Philippines, told reporters that the military rescued three Malaysian hostages around 11:30 p.m. Sunday in a remote village in Sulu.

"They are all alive and well, and they are in a Sulu hospital," Ano said, adding they were brought to a local hospital for check-ups.

Ano said the Abu Sayyaf are still holding around 20 hostages of different nationalities, including Indonesians, Vietnamese and Dutch.

The three hostages were part of five Malaysian crewmen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militants off Malaysia's Sabah state in July last year.

The two other hostages were rescued last week by Philippine marines and sailors after they were reportedly abandoned by their captors.

The three hostages who were rescued late Sunday were identified as Zulkipli Bin Ali, Mohammad Bin Ismail and Fandy Bin Bakran.

The two Malaysian hostages rescued on March 23 were identified as Tayudin Arjut and Abdurahim Bin Sumas.

Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent jihadist groups operating in the southern Philippines.

It is notorious for kidnappings, bombings and attacking civilians and the army.

The group, numbering about 500, has been sowing terror in the southern Philippine region since the early 1990s.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to crush the Abu Sayyaf militants.