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Malaysian hostage beheaded in Philippines

Mr Bernard Then, who was abducted in May, was beheaded yesterday at an Abu Sayyaf stronghold on Jolo island, said the Philippine military.
Mr Bernard Then, who was abducted in May, was beheaded yesterday at an Abu Sayyaf stronghold on Jolo island, said the Philippine military.PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY

Islamist militants in the Philippines yesterday beheaded a Malaysian hostage they seized in May from a resort in Malaysia's Sabah state, the Philippine military said.

Mr Bernard Then, 39, was beheaded at around 4pm at an Abu Sayyaf stronghold on Jolo island, Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said in a report.

Mr Then and Ms Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, were abducted in May from a restaurant in Sandakan city.

Ms Thien, manager of the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, was freed earlier this month after the militants were reportedly paid 30 million pesos (S$900,000) in ransom.

Brig-Gen Arrojado said Mr Then's family "failed to comply" with the militants' demand "during their negotiation that prompted them to execute their plan".

"Accordingly, the body was immediately buried in the vicinity where they beheaded the victim," he said.

He said the beheading occurred as the military launched an artillery attack on the hostage-takers' position in Sulu province, about 1,400km south of Manila.

He said efforts were now being made to locate Mr Then's remains.

Mr Then was reportedly suffering from leg injuries that he sustained while in captivity, and had been slowing down his captors.

Police identified the leaders of the group behind the abduction as Alhabsy Misaya, Alden Bagade and Angah Adji.

Intelligence officials have linked the group that abducted Ms Thien and Mr Then to a series of cross-border kidnappings in Sabah.

The group was allegedly behind the abduction of Ms Gao Huayun, a Chinese tourist, and Ms Marcy Dayawan, a Filipino resort worker, in April last year.

Both were taken from the Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort in Semporna town.

They were released two months later after Ms Gao's family reportedly paid a ransom of about 300 million pesos.

The Abu Sayyaf was formed by disgruntled Moro Islamic fighters in 1991, with Al-Qaeda funding. However, it did not gain prominence until May 2000, when it attacked a dive resort in Sipadan, Malaysia, taking 21 hostages.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysian hostage beheaded in Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe