Two Vietnamese sailors have been beheaded after an eight-month ordeal at the hands of Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
The Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) identified the victims as Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai, two of six crew members of a ship targeted by the Islamic State-affiliated group last November.
Residents found their bodies in Barangay Tumahubong in Sumisip town at 5.40am this morning (Wednesday, July 5).
Authorities will conduct a forensic examination in coordination with the Vietnamese embassy, the military said.
Army spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla suggested the atrocity was a bid to show force amid heightened military operations that have “degraded their capacity”.
“This is an attempt to show force, but they are not that strong,” he said.
He said the bandit group killed hostages as the government stood by its no-ransom policy.
On November 11 last year, the Basilan faction of the Abu Sayyaf group led by Furudji Indama attacked bulk carrier MV Royal 16 near Sibago Island in the Basilan Strait while it was en-route to Davao City. Six Vietnamese members of the crew were abducted.
One of them, Hoang Vo, escaped on June 16 while his captors were distracted by airstrikes and artillery fire.
The three remaining hostages “are subject of the intensive ongoing rescue operations conducted by the troops of Basilan,” Wesmincom has said.
Since last September, Abu Sayyaf has beheaded two Canadians, one German and a Filipino.
The military said that since the start of this year, 97 Abu Sayyaf members have been killed in military operations. Sixty-seven others have been taken alive and 98 surrendered.