Sayyaf militants hunted
BASILAN – Security forces were hunting down Abu Sayyaf militants in the restive province of Basilan where four of its members had been captured last week.
Police are now holding the militants who were involved in the kidnapping of 6 Vietnamese sailors, two of them beheaded early this month after their employer and families ignored ransom demands by the notorious extremist group.
The men – Ibno Akmad, Taha Upao, Ibrahim Akmad and Bryan Upao – were being investigated by the police after their capture in Lamitan City.
They were accused of participating in the hijacking of thevietnamese cargo ship MV Royal 16 on November 11 last year off Sibago Island in Basilan and the kidnapping of the crewmen. It was not immediately known whether they participated in the brutal killing of Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai whose decapitated bodies were discovered on July 5 in Sumisip town.
The killings of the sailor came shortly after the militant freed Vietnamese sailor Huang Vo. The fate of the other hostages – Phang Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu and Tran Khac Dung – is still unknown.
Just recently, a Vietnamese crewman – Tran Viet Van – of another hijacked cargo ship MV Giang Hai was also found dead in Sulu province following fierce clashes between the army and militants in Patikul town on July 7. Van was among 6 Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in February off Tawi-tawi province near Sabah, Malaysia.
The military claimed that the Abu Sayyaf is still holding 16 foreigners and four Filipinos in the troubled region.