Philip­pine mil­i­tants be­head two Viet­namese hostages

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­lamist mil­i­tants have be­headed two Viet­namese sailors held hostage for eight months in the south­ern Philippines, the mil­i­tary said yes­ter­day. Philip­pine troops found the re­mains of the two hostages early yes­ter­day morn­ing on the is­land of Basi­lan, a strong­hold of the no­to­ri­ous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for­ran­som group, mil­i­tary spokes­woman Cap­tain Jo-Ann Pet­inglay said. “This is a des­per­ate mea­sure of the Abu Sayyaf Group be­cause they see they have no gains from their kidnap-for-ran­som ac­tiv­ity,” Pet­inglay said.

Abu Sayyaf, orig­i­nally a loose net­work of mil­i­tants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda 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 mil­i­tants are hold­ing a to­tal of 22 hostages, in­clud­ing 16 for­eign­ers, ac­cord­ing to Pet­inglay. 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 30 mil­lion pe­sos ($600,000) was not met. Last year, the group be­headed two Cana­dian hostages. —AFP

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