Philippine Military: Abu Sayyaf Executed Indonesian Hostage

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
201001-PH-Abu-Sayyaf-dead-1000.jpg Philippine soldiers carry the bodies of suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group after a gunfight in Jolo, Sulu province, Sept. 7, 2017.

Abu Sayyaf militants killed an Indonesian hostage as soldiers closed in amid a shootout on Jolo Island earlier this week, the top military commander in the southern Philippines told BenarNews on Thursday, citing evidence of an execution.

Meanwhile a 64-year-old Filipino-American man was rescued from the custody of suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members on Wednesday following a gunfight in another southern province, two weeks after he was abducted while traveling home, according to a statement from the military and local reports.

In the wake of the clash on Monday in Patikul, a town on Jolo, the body of 32-year-old Indonesian national La Baa was found sprawled on the ground, bearing gunshot wounds consistent with someone who was intentionally put to death, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan said.

“The Indonesian hostage was executed by the ASG and was not slain in the encounter,” Vinluan told BenarNews, adding that the body was found some 300 meters (984 feet) away from the actual clash site in a remote village in Pakitul.

Based on an investigation at the scene, the Indonesian captive could have tried to escape in the thick of the fighting Wednesday, but was caught and gunned down by his captors, Vinluan said.

One Abu Sayyaf fighter was also killed in the firefight, he said.

La Baa was one of five Indonesian fishermen who were abducted at sea off an island in Sabah, a state in nearby Malaysian Borneo, in mid-January. The four other Indonesians are believed to be in the custody of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic State-linked group based in the southern Philippines and notorious for carrying out kidnappings.

La Baa [photo courtesy of Sulu Provincial Police Office]
La Baa [photo courtesy of Sulu Provincial Police Office]

La Baa’s body will be repatriated to Indonesia as soon as possible, the military said.

La Baa’s fellow nationals were identified as boat captain Arsyad Dahlan (41) and fishermen Arizal Kastamiran (29), Riswanto Hayano (27), and Edi Lawalopo (53), who were all working aboard a fishing vessel were seized from their boat by gunmen near Tambisan Island and taken to Jolo, an island in the Sulu chain near Malaysia’s sea border with the Philippines, officials said.

Troops on Thursday pressed on with a manhunt for the militants and their other captives, Vinluan said.

“There has been a continued focused military operation for the safe recovery of the victims,” Vinluan added.

Captive freed

In other developments, the military announced that army troops rescued a man who had been kidnapped by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Zamboanga del Norte province on Sept. 16.

“We are happy to inform the public that our operating troops successfully rescued abducted farmer, Rex Triplitt at 10:30 in the morning today [Wednesday],” Vinluan, the head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement.

Triplitt was rescued after a gunbattle between troops from the 42nd Infantry Battalion and five Abu Sayyaf suspects in the hinterlands of Sirawai, a town in Zamboanga del Norte, according to a report by the state-run Philippine News Agency.

“Based on the initial report from the ground, the five are members of the Sulu-based Daesh Inspired-Abu Sayyaf/kidnap for ransom group under Injam Yadah, a.k.a. Injam,” Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, said in a statement posted on Facebook by the Western Mindanao Command on Wednesday.


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