Abu Sayyaf Kills Abducted Vietnamese Seafarer
On Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed that the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf has killed one of the six Vietnamese seafarers abducted from the bulker Giang Hai.
"Only five are left because one of the victims was killed" while fleeing AFP troops, said Colonel Cirilito Sobejana, the commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.
On February 19, gunmen associated with Abu Sayyaf boarded the Giang Hai about 17 nm off of Pearl Bank, a small reef north of Tawi-Tawi. They killed one crewmember on board and abducted six others.
Sobejana told the Philippine Star that the Vietnamese hostages were not on the island of Sulu, Abu Sayyaf's main stronghold. The group is believed to be holding as many as 33 victims captive, including seven Indonesians, eight Filipinos, five Malaysians, 11 Vietnames and one Dutch national. The majority are seafarers or fishermen who were abducted during Abu Sayyaf's recent foray into maritime kidnapping, which has made the waters off Sabah, Malaysia the most dangerous in the world for piracy.
Abu Sayyaf leader killed
Military officials say that Buchoy "Black" Hassan, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, has been killed by government forces at his home in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi. The authorities said that five speadboats and a number of outboard motors were found at Hassan's home.
In a statement, the AFP said that "Hassan recruited cohorts and acquired several speedboats to sustain his illegal activities and became the key facilitator in the illegal drugs trade in Tawi-Tawi." He was also a suspect in the abduction of a Taiwanese national from a resort in Sabah in 2013.
Children killed during anti-Abu Sayyaf operation in Basilan
The AFP is carrying out a large-scale military operation against Abu Sayyaf on the islands of Sulu and Basilan, and it has said that expects to succeed in its campaign objectives very soon. However, observers say that its progress has come at the cost of collateral damage to the local economy and to civilian life.
On Tuesday, the commander of the Western Mindanao Command apologized for the deaths of two children during a raid in Tabuan Lasa, a group of small islands south of Basilan. "I feel very bad until now. I am really very sorry over the two. They were caught in the crossfire,” Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. told the Philippine Inquirer.
The raid targeted Mubin "Mulawin" Kulin, who is believed to be involved in Abu Sayyaf kidnapping activities. Maj. Gen. Galvez said that when troops arrived to arrest Kulin, they were attacked, and Kulin managed to escape in the ensuing firefight. The two children, identified as Nurmida Alha Abbi and Asab Tawallah Abuhaip, were killed in the exchange. Two adults were also killed, including Hadji Billamin Hassan, an alleged member of Abu Sayyaf who was believed to be involved in the kidnapping of the crew of the Giang Hai. Local residents have accused the government forces of executing Hassan after his arrest, a charge that the AFP denies.