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Abu Sayyaf beheads Vietnamese sailors in Philippines

ABU SAYYAF BEHEADS VIETNAMESE SAILORS IN PHILIPPINES

The beheaded remains of two Vietnamese sailors kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf were discovered in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, military officials said.

The men -- identified as Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai, crew members of the MV Royal 16 cargo ship -- were found in the village of Tumahubong on the island of Basilan, military spokeswoman Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said.

They were among six crew abducted by the Daesh-linked group on Nov. 11 last year off Sibago Island in the Moro Gulf between Basilan and Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippine archipelago.

Three crew are still being held by Abu Sayyaf after one was freed by security forces in Basilan last month.

Basilan and other islands stretching between the main Philippine islands and Borneo are a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, formed in 1991.

It has carried out kidnappings for ransom, often targeting Filipinos and foreigners sailing in the Sulu and Celebes seas and beheading hostages if ransoms are not paid.

Recently, Abu Sayyaf has been involved in fighting alongside the Maute group against government forces in Marawi City on Mindanao. More than 460 people have been killed in the ongoing battle since it began on May 23.

Col. Juvymax Uy, the commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said the sailors' remains were found at 3.00 a.m. local time (1900GMT) dumped by a dirt road and covered with banana leaves.

He said their severed heads had been placed in the right armpit of each body.

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