Body of man thought to be Vietnamese sailor kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf found

By Khanh Lynh   December 10, 2017 | 08:12 pm PT
Body of man thought to be Vietnamese sailor kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf found
Philippine soldiers carry caskets containing bodies of colleagues killed in an encounter with Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf group at Jolo airport on the island of Mindanao in 2016. Photo by AFP
The Philippine militant group abducted six Vietnamese sailors last year, and three have already been confirmed dead.

Police in the Philippines have found the body of a man believed to be one of a group of Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by militant group Abu Sayyaf in November last year.

Local authorities are expected to carry out DNA tests on Monday to establish if it is the body of Pham Minh Tuan, the Vietnamese captain of a cargo ship that was attacked by the group, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Abu Sayyaf attacked the MV Royal 16 ship off the Philippines last November. They eventually released the vessel and 13 of its crew members, but held six hostage.

Two of the Vietnamese hostages were beheaded by the group in July. Another two were rescued in June and August by Filipino troops.

Of the remaining hostages, one was killed during a raid carried out by Filipino troops against Abu Sayyaf in July, and Tuan was the last one left.

The body was found in Sulu Province, part of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.

Filipino officials in Basilan Province said that Abu Sayyaf had held Tuan captive in the province, but transferred him to Sulu due to pressure from armed villagers helping the police and military fight the Islamic State-inspired group, Philstar reported on December 9.

Tuan was reportedly executed by his captors in the middle of an encounter with Filipino troops in early September, Basilan officials assumed, said the report.

If the DNA results confirm it is Tuan, he will be transferred back to his hometown in Vietnan.

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, according to AFP.

The Muslim rebel group has become notorious for kidnappings over the past 15 years and has earned millions of dollars in ransoms. They have acquired modern weapons, high-powered boats and communications equipment.

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 30 million pesos ($600,000) was not met.

Last year, the group also beheaded two Canadian hostages.

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