Two Vietnamese hostages held by Abu Sayyaf beheaded

MANILA - Two Vietnamese held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group since November last year were found beheaded early on Wednesday (July 5).

Colonel Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said the bodies of Mr Hoang Trung Thong and Mr Hoang Va Hai were found at 5.40am on Wednesday in Tumahubong village, Sumisip town, in Basilan province.

The two were among the six crew members of the MV Royal 16, a Vietnamese cargo vessel, seized by the Abu Sayyaf off Sibago Island in Basilan on Nov 11, 2016.

Security forces rescued Mr Huang Vo, one of the MV Royal 16 hostages, in June.

In a news briefing, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman, said the beheadings were an attempt by the Abu Sayyaf, which is allied with the ultra-radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, "to cover up the fact that they are a spent force".

The military last week reported that 258 Abu Sayyaf fighters had been "subdued" since January this year.

Out of the total, 94 were killed, 66 were arrested, and 98 surrendered, it said.