THE Abu Sayyaf terrorist group has beheaded two Vietnamese sailors held captive for eight months, drawing immediate condemnation from President Rodrigo Duterte.
The military found the decapitated bodies of Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai, crew members of the MV Royal16 Vietnamese cargo vessel, in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan, following a tip from a Basilan resident who saw the remains at 5:40 a.m. on Wednesday.
The two were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in November 2016 on the waters southeast of Sibago Island in Basilan.
Duterte swiftly denounced the beheadings.
“Did you see the new victims they beheaded? The two Vietnamese that they abducted…They cut off their necks,” Duterte said in his remarks during the 64th anniversary celebration of Hagonoy town in Davao del Sur.
“We will explain this again to the Vietnamese…You want to be enslaved by these? Ay son of a b****,” he added.
Col. Juvymax Uy, commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Basilan, said the remains would undergo forensic examinations, in coordination with the Vietnamese embassy in Manila.
Last month, the task force rescued a Vietnamese identified as Hoang Vo, 28, in Sumisip town. He and other crew members — Pham Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu, Tran Khac Dung, Hoang Trung Thong and Hoang Va Hai, were abducted by Abu Sayyaf last year.
Military spokeswoman Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the beheadings were a “desperate measure of the Abu Sayyaf Group because they see they have no gains from their kidnap-for-ransom activity.”
The 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.
Abu Sayyaf members 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 P30 million ($600,000) was not met.
Last year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry said it was seeking confirmation from Philippine authorities, and called for heavy punishment for the killers.
“Vietnam strongly condemns all acts of kidnapping and barbarous and inhumane murder, and we are of the opinion that these acts must be heavily punished,” spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told Agence France Presse.