THE headless bodies of two Vietnamese kidnap victims were found by ground troops pursuing Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tumahubong Village in the town of Sumisip in Basilan early Wednesday morning.
The cadavers left by the bandits were those of Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai, two of the six Vietnamese crewmen of the cargo ship m/v Royal 16, who were forcibly taken on Nov. 11, 2016 off Sibago Island, Basilan province.
“The bodies were found at 5:40 in the morning by a member of the local populace,” said Col. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan.
He said the bodies would undergo forensic exam in coordination with the Vietnamese Embassy.
The four other Vietnamese colleagues of the victims still in captivity were identified as Pham Minh Tuan; Do Trung Hieu; Hoang Vo; and Tran Khac.
Last month, ground troops from the JTF rescued a Vietnamese kidnap victim, Hoang Vo, in the same town.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits have hijacked two ships in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi and taken the Vietnamese crewmen hostage.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. condemned the beheading of the hostages and urged residents in Basilan to remain vigilant against the terror group.
Military spokeswoman Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the beheading of the hostages was “a desperate measure” because the Abu Sayyaf could see no gains from their kidnap-for-ransom activities.
Abu Sayyaf, originally a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida network, has splintered into factions, with some continuing to engage in banditry and kidnappings.
One faction has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, with members among those holding parts of Marawi, the largely Catholic nation’s most important Islamic city.
Militants continue to occupy parts of Marawi despite a US-backed military offensive there that has claimed more than 460 lives and displaced nearly 400,000 people since it began in May.
The two Vietnamese were seized last November along with four other Vietnamese crew members of a vessel that was boarded by the militants off the southern region of Mindanao, the military said.
One of the six crewmen was rescued last month and three remain in captivity, Petinglay said.
Abu Sayyaf bandits are holding a total of 22 hostages, including 16 foreigners, Petinglay said.
The Abu Sayyaf is known to behead its hostages unless ransom payments are made.
German national Jurgen Kantner, 70, was beheaded in February after the kidnappers’ demand for P30 million ($600,000) was not met.
Last year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages. With AFP
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