Abu Sayaff kidnaps German after murdering wife
ISLAMIC militants who specialise in kidnappings-for-ransom have reported killing a German sailor and abducting her elderly male companion from their yacht in waters off the southern Philippines, the military said yesterday.
A commander from the Abu Sayyaf group, which has collected millions of dollars by kidnapping foreigners and beheading others after ransoms demands were not met, claimed responsibility for the latest incident, regional military spokesperson Filemon Tan said.
Mr Tan said the military had recovered the couple’s yacht, and the body of a naked white woman who had been shot was aboard.
He said the military had listened to an audio recording of a known Abu Sayyaf leader claiming responsibility for the raid on the yacht, and the abducted German man also spoke on the phone call.
The abducted man identified himself as Jurgen Kantner, aged 70, and his companion as Sabine, according to Mr Tan.
The victims were coincidentally also abducted by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden and held hostage for 52 days in 2008.
AFP had interviewed Mr Kantner and his wife, Sabine Merz, in 2009 about their ordeal when they returned to Somalia to retrieve their boat, named the Rockall.
Despite being subjected to a mock execution during his ordeal, Mr Kantner said the threat of kidnapping would never stop him from sailing around the world.
“My boat is my life and I don’t want to lose her, nothing more. I don’t care about pirates and governments,” Mr Kantner had said in the 2009 interview from Berbera, the main port in Somaliland.
The Philippine military released a photo yesterday of the Rockall and said it had a German flag on it.
Mr Tan said the passports of Mr Kantner and Ms Merz were found on the Rockall. He said the photo appeared to match the dead woman.
The Abu Sayyaf, a loose network of militants based on remote islands in the southern Philippines, has defied more than a decade of US-backed military offensives against it and gone a lucrative kidnapping spree in recent years.
In 2014, the militants abducted another German couple off a yacht in the southern Philippines. They released the pair six months later after receiving what they said was the full ransom demand of 250 million pesos (US$5.1 million).
This latest incident came following a warning by the US government last week that Islamic militants were planning to kidnap foreigners in tourist hotspots in central Philippines, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the Abu Sayyaf’s bases. –