KIDAPAWAN CITY: The military has confirmed that the two unreleased sawmill worker hostages in Lanao del Sur were beheaded by their captors, who are supporters of the Islamic State (IS), on Monday.
Colonel Manolo Samarita, deputy commander of the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade (103rdIB) based in Marawi City, told The Manila Times that the bodies of two hostages along with their heads were recovered on Tuesday.
The victims – Salvador Hanobas alias Tado and Makol Hanobas alias Macky – were abducted on April 4, along with four other sawmill workers who were released on Monday.
The beheading was carried out after their captors, identifying themselves as Dawlah Islamiyah or Islamic State in Lanao, did not get their demand for the release of their comrade – a 13-year-old Ayman, whom they claimed to have been arrested by authorities during the February clashes in Butig.
Military and police officials, however, insisted that no jihadist was arrested during or after the military operations there.
The hostages were working in a sawmill owned by Haja Anisa Unda in the village of Sandab, Butig town.
They were accused by the group of spying for the government.
The jihadists’ suspicion on spies in Butig was raised after shooting down a military spy drone hovering over their controlled area a day before the abduction on April 4.
On April 9 they posted message on their Facebook page “Man al-Ghareeb” threatening to decapitate the hostages if their demand was not granted on Sunday.
They also uploaded photos of the hostages wearing prisoners’ orange uniforms similar to that of IS captives in Syria and Iraq.
On Monday, the group freed Julieto Hanobas, Alfredo Anoos, Gabriel Permites and Adones Mendez after series of negotiations by the town’s local leaders, including commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).