Philippine troops have found the remains of Jurgen Kantner as the army presses ahead with its bid to free 30 other captives of the Islamic State-affiliated terror group.
Marines dug up the head and body of Mr Kantner yesterday (Saturday, March 4) in the mountainous region of Indanan town in Sulu province said regional military commander Major General Carlito Galvez Jr.
The 70-year-old German was seized from his yacht with his partner Sabine Merz off Malaysia’s Sabah state in November. Ms Merz was fatally shot on the yacht. (Read more here.)
The couple had survived a kidnapping ordeal off Somalia in 2008. (Full story here.)
“Once again, the command is sending its deep regrets to the family for not being able to rescue Mr. Kantner on time,” Maj. Gen. Galvez said. He repeated a pledge to rescue other hostages and crush Abu Sayyaf.
President Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said the government “will leave no stone unturned in squarely addressing the evils of extremism and plain banditry.”
“Rest assured these mindless acts will not go unpunished,” he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Kantner’s killing as an “abominable act.” The terror group circulated a video of the beheading online.
Duterte has said Filipino forces tried their best to rescue Mr Kantner but apologised to Germany and his family after troops failed to rescue him during his four months of captivity in Sulu.
About two dozen Filipino troops were wounded in clashes that also killed 16 Abu Sayyaf gunmen in efforts to rescue Kantner. After he was beheaded, troops intensified ground assaults and airstrikes.
On Sunday, marines killed four Abu Sayyaf militants in an assault near Sulu’s Maimbung town. At least 10 other militants were killed in a separate clash Friday that also wounded 18 troops near Patikul town, said Sulu’s military commander, Col. Cirilito Sobejana. (Read more here)
Intelligence reports say the militants behind Mr Kantner’s killing included Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and his nephew, Mujil Yadah, who was also involved in the 2015 kidnappings of a Norwegian, a Filipina and two Canadians, who were later beheaded.
According to the report, the other kidnappers of the German included Moammar Askali and Idang Susukan. Askali, a young militant, insisted that Kantner should be killed after a deadline for the payment of a 30 million peso ($600,000) ransom had passed last weekend.