Young captive freed; German hostage beheaded

A young boy was released unharmed by the Abu Sayyaf group on Feb. 27 in Sulu, reportedly after a P3-million ransom was paid by the victim’s family, security sources revealed.

Reports said 7-year-old Ricson Rumoc was freed in the vicinity of Barangay Anuling, Patikul town. He was taken captive along with his parents last August in Payao town, Zamboanga Sibugay. Rumoc’s parents were freed late last year to produce his ransom.

Reports said the young boy was spotted by villagers. Barangay Anuling chairman Ging Hayudini brought the victim to Jolo. The victim was flown aboard a private aircraft and was reunited with his parents. They subsequently headed back to their hometown in Payao.

Abu Sayyaf beheads German hostage

Intensified military operations in Sulu failed to stop notorious local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf from killing its German hostage when the P30 million ($600,000) ransom demand lapsed.

The German embassy in the Philippines confirmed it was Juergen Kantner in the video that circulated on Feb. 27, according to chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza.  Kantner is the third foreigner to be beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in the last 10 months. Two Canadian hostages were beheaded in 2016 after ransom payment deadlines lapsed.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will continue its efforts to stop atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf, and that the military aims to crush the terrorist group by June 2017. The military on Nov. 7 last year reported finding Kantner’s yacht, Rockall, adrift off the southern Philippines. The body of a woman with a bullet wound, later identified by the hostage as his partner, Sabine Merz, was found on board the vessel.

Kantner appeared in a video two weeks ago to announce the Feb. 26 deadline that the bandits set for his beheading if ransom was not paid. The subgroup led by Muammar Askali or Abu Rami was reportedly behind the beheading, the same group that was also behind the kidnapping of a German couple in 2014. The couple was released after P250 million in ransom was reportedly paid.

The military launched operations to try to free the hostages, but failed to save Kantner.

1 dead, 6 abducted in Vietnamese ship attack

A Vietnamese cargo ship was attacked by gunmen off the Philippines’ southern tip, killing a Vietnamese crewman and abducting six others including the vessel’s captain, the Philippine coast guard and the ship’s owner said Feb. 20.

Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the Vietnamese coast guard reported that the MV Giang Hai, with 17 crewmen on board, was attacked by pirates Sunday night about 20 miles (31 kilometers) north of Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines’ southernmost province.

Philippine coast guard, police and marines found the ship had drifted near the province’s Baguan Island. They found 10 Vietnamese sailors alive and one dead on board. Pham Van Hien, head of the safety department of Pham Hai shipping company, the owner of the cargo ship based in Vietnam’s northern port city of Hai Phong, said the captain was among those abducted.

The attack occurred while the vessel was transporting 4,500 tons of cement from Indonesia to the Philippines, he said. The gunmen destroyed some of the ship’s equipment, but the 10 remaining crew members managed to sail the ship, Hien said. He said the company had informed the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in Malaysia to seek its help in securing the return of the kidnapped crew members.

Balilo said pursuit operations are underway, but the location of the abducted crewmen and the identity of the attackers remain unknown.

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