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Body of Malaysian hostage recovered in Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Philippine troops have recovered Wednesday the remains of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, a day after he was decapitated by Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Filipino town of Indanan.

The 39-year old Then was killed on November 17 hours after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Bernard was kidnapped by armed rebels in May along with the 50-year old Thien Nyuk Fun, manager of Ocean King Restaurant in Sandakan town in Sabah, and spirited them the southern Philippines.

Thien was freed by rebels just this month in what Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed was the result of successful negotiations with her captors.

Bernard’s head was found in a package left on Marina Street in Walled City in Jolo town and with it was a piece of paper with his name scribbled on it.

Captain Roy Trinidad, a military spokesman, has confirmed that a headless body was recovered from a shallow grave in Indanan’s Kagay village. “Authorities are determining if the severed head and the recovered body are that of Malaysian national Bernard Then,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The military’s Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) has condemned the merciless killing of the Malaysian hostage.

Brigadier General Alan Arojado, task force commander, said the military operation against the Abu Sayyaf is still continuing in Sulu and nearby Basilan province, a stronghold of the rebel group which has pledged allegiance to ISIS. “There is an ongoing operation against the Abu Sayyaf,” he said without further elaborating.

A military source said a leader of the Abu Sayyaf, Isnilon Hapilon, was wounded in recent clash with government troops and is being pursued by the security forces. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreign hostages, including two Canadians, a Norwegian, an Italian and Filipinos kidnapped from other places and brought to Sulu’s jungle. (Mindanao Examiner)

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