ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Abu Sayyaf gunmen beheaded and mutilated five of the seven Marines killed in Sulu on Thursday, the military said.
“One of the severed heads has yet to be recovered,” a Marine officer overseeing the embalming procedure at the St. Peter’s Chapel here, told the INQUIRER on Friday.
The Marine, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the sight of the slain soldiers reminded them of a similar incident in Basilan in 2007, where 10 Marine soldiers were beheaded by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen.
He said the embalmers, who attended to the cadavers, had a hard time doing their job because of the extent of the mutilation. “Some of them were hacked beyond recognition,” the Marine said.
The bodies of the soldiers were brought to the said funeral parlor around 1 a.m. Friday. But as of 9 a.m., the INQUIRER learned that embalmers managed to prepare only two of the bodies, those which bore only bullet wounds.
Commodore Armando Guzman, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, confirmed that Marines had indeed been beheaded.
“This is the saddest part. Explaining to their families how it happened. It’s not easy on our part,” Guzman said.
Guzman said the beheading was the work of barbarians. “It is not acceptable,” he said.
Col. Daniel Lucero, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Lanao who spent time in Basilan in the past, said it was not unusual for the Abu Sayyaf to mutilate fallen soldiers.
“They behead soldiers to dehumanize our troops,” Lucero said, citing at least two incidents during his Basilan stint.