Abu Sayyaf beheads 2 Vietnamese hostages
BASILAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Abu Sayyaf has beheaded two Vietnamese hostages, authorities confirmed on Wednesday, July 5.
Colonel Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said a resident found the decapitated remains of the hostages in Barangay Tumahubong in Sumisip town early Wednesday.
Basilan authorities identified the victims as Hoang Trung Thong and Hoang Va Hai, who were among the 6 kidnapped crew members of the MV Royal 16, a Vietnamese cargo vessel attacked by the Abu Sayyaf off Sibago Island in Basilan on November 11, 2016.
"The bodies were found at 5:40 in the morning by a member of the local populace," Uy said.
"The cadavers will be made to undergo forensic exams as coordination with the Vietnamese embassy is also simultaneously done," Uy added.
Joint Task Force Basilan rescued Huang Vo, one of the MV Royal 16 hostages, in June.
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr, Western Mindanao Command chief, condemned the incident.
"We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of...kidnap victims in Basilan province. For months now, many sectors in the society, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP, exhausted all efforts to rescue these kidnap victims who are still in the hands of the ASG," Galvez said.
"Westmincom commiserates with the bereaved family and friends of the slain victims. In no way does the Abu Sayyaf Group represent our Muslim brothers who are true followers of Islam," he added.
Military spokeswoman Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay called the execution of the hostages "a desperate measure of the Abu Sayyaf Group because they see they have no gains from their kidnap-for-ransom activity."
On February 19, the Abu Sayyaf attacked Vietnamese ship MV Giang Hai off Sulu's Pearl Bank, killing a crew member and abducting several others. In March, the military confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf killed one of the hostages from the group who tried to escape in Tawi-Tawi.
Petinglay said the Abu Sayyaf is still holding 22 hostages, including 16 foreigners.
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 a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com