ZAMBOANGA CITY: A Vietnamese sailor kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group was found in a village in Sulu province where security forces clashed with militants.
A bullet-riddled body, believed to be that of MV Royal 16 cargo crew member Tran Khac Dung, was recovered in the village of Buhanginan in Patikul town where army soldiers battled with the Abu Sayyaf on July 8. It was unknown whether Tran was killed during the fighting.
The report cannot be independently confirmed and the military’s Western Mindanao Command did not give any statement whether the recovered cadaver of the militant was actually that of the Vietnamese hostage.
The fighting erupted in Patikul town after two kidnapped Filipino fishermen Reyjim Rocabo, 41, and Roel Leones, 37, who were freed on July 7 by the Abu Sayyaf, provided information to the military on the location of the militant group and its hostages. The information provided by the duo led troops to the hideout of Abu Sayyaf commander Almujer Yadah in Patikul.
The battle also killed a soldier and wounded 15 others from the 21st Infantry Battalion.
Rocabo and Leones, crewmembers of FB Ramona 2, were kidnapped in December 20 last year in the Celebes Sea. Their ship captain, Noel Besconde, was beheaded on April 13 by the Abu Sayyaf after his employer and family failed to pay ransom.
Another crewman, Roy Ramos, was freed in June in Talipao town.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is still holding 16 foreigners and four Filipinos, recently beheaded Vietnamese sailors Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai after their government and families failed to pay ransom. Their decapitated bodies were recovered in the village of Tumahubong in Sumisip town in Basilan province.
The sailors were kidnapped on November 11 off Basilan along with four others seamen Phang Minh Tuan and Do Trung Hieu and Huang Vo, who was released last month by the Abu Sayyaf in Sumisip town. They are all crew members of the cargo ship MV Royal 16.