Government troops in Parang town, Sulu, southern Philippines, have found a headless body, believed to be that of a Malaysian kidnapped in Sandakan in May by the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), police reports said.
Western Mindanao Command spokesman Major Filemon Tan said the decomposing body of kidnap victim Bernard Then Ted Fen was recovered by members of the 9th Intelligence Service unit and the 501st Infantry Brigade at the vicinity of Sitio Lungon-Lungon in Bgry. Lanao Dakula, Parang.
The body was brought to the Trauma Hospital in Camp General Teodulio Bautista in Barangay Bus-Bus in Jolo for processing and disposition.
It was not immediately known if military authorities have informed the Malaysian Embassy about the recovery of the body.
Thirty-nine-year-old Fen was abducted, along with Malaysian businesswoman Thien Nyuk Fun, on May 14 by heavily armed ASG members who stormed a resort in Sandakan, Malaysia.
They were brought by their abductors, led by ASG sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya and Idang Susukan, to the hinterlands of Sulu and were held captive there for six months.
The Abu Sayyaf had demanded P30 million for the safe release of the two hostages.
Thien was released on November 8 in Indanan town after her family paid the ransom.
But Fen was executed on November 17 after negotiations for his release stalled. He was beheaded hours after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
His severed head, placed in a box with markings, was found in Barangay Walled City, also in Jolo. His body was reportedly found the following day in Bgry. Kagay, Indanan, which the military retracted later following a forensic examination.
The prime minister condemned the beheading of the hostage, calling it “savage and barbaric.”
“I, the government, and all Malaysians are shocked and sickened by the murder of our countryman Bernard Then, and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” Najib said in a statement on his Facebook page.
The Al Qaeda-linked ASG is the smallest but most vicious terror group operating in the southern Philippines. It is notorious for bombings, killings and kidnappings, targeting mostly foreigners, according to the military.
Last year, several ASG sub-leaders, including Isnilon Hapilon, were reported to have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has established a caliphate after taking huge tracts of land in the Middle East.