AFP confirms 2 Vietnamese hostages found with severed heads
First published: 11:47 a.m., July 5, 2017
ZAMBOANGA CITY — The decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits eight months ago were found early on Wednesday in a village on Basilan Island.
Troops found the remains of the two sailors in Upper Tumahubong village in Sumisip town, according to Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).
“Our troops found the headless bodies after local residents alerted us about the [bodies],” Petinglay told reporters, adding that the heads were found beside the bodies.
Basilan Gov. Jim Saliman said the bodies, discovered by residents at 3 a.m., were dumped on a dirt road and covered with banana leaves.
Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked a cargo ship, the MV Royal 16, in waters near Sibago Island off Basilan and seized the vessel’s six-member crew on Nov. 11 last year.
One of the sailors was rescued during a military combat operation on June 16.
The two victims found on Wednesday were believed to be companions of the three sailors still in the hands of the bandits.
The victims had been identified as Hoang Trung Thong, a boatswain’s mate, and Hoang Va Hai, a boat apprentice, Petinglay said.
“We have informed the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila,” she added.
Col. Juvymax Uy, commander of the 104th Army Brigade, said the bodies would undergo forensic examination in coordination with the Vietnamese Embassy.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, condemned the “barbaric beheading” of the two sailors.
He said the military and the police were trying to locate and rescue the kidnapped sailors.
The three other Vietnamese sailors in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf—Pham Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu and Tran Khac Dung—are among 14 foreigners and eight Filipinos still held by the bandits in Basilan, Petinglay said.
The Abu Sayyaf is a group of ruthless bandits known to behead their hostages unless ransom payments are made.
German hostage Jürgen Kantner, 70, was beheaded in February after the kidnappers’ ransom demand of P30 million was not met.
Last year, the bandits beheaded two Canadian hostages.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, reported the deaths of the Vietnamese sailors in Manila.
“It’s because they can no longer get anything from the victims that they abducted. They’ve held the hostages for a long time but they did not get any ransom payment,” Padilla said.
“We are encouraging the companies and the families of the victims to coordinate with our policemen who are members of the antikidnapping task force,” he added.
Padilla said the military would press its operations to degrade the capabilities and reduce the ranks of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi while convincing local communities to turn their backs on the bandits.
An Abu Sayyaf faction led by Isnilon Hapilon, who has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, is involved in the seven-week-old siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province. —With reports from Philip C. Tubeza in Manila and the wires /JV /atm
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