By Hader Glang
Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists brutally shot to death one of three remaining Vietnamese sailors they kidnapped last year off Basilan in the country's Muslim south, officials confirmed Thursday.
The military said that a bullet-riddled body of Vietnamese national Tran Viet Van was recovered in Barangay (village) Buhanginan in Patikul town, Sulu province.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, told reporters that Joint Task Force (JTF) turned over the sailor's body to Anti-Kidnapping Group, or AKG, on Monday.
She did not give further details on what day or time the slain Vietnamese crewman was recovered.
The Viet Nam News, however, reported that the Vietnamese embassy in the Philippines was working with both the Vietnamese and Filipino authorities to complete forensic and legal procedures, preparing documents to bring Van’s body back to his family.
The Vietnamese major daily quoted foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang as saying, “I am grief-stricken to confirm that Vietnamese national Tran Viet Van has lost his life. We want to send our deepest condolences to Tran Viet Van’s family, wishing that they soon overcome such a great loss."
In November 2016, Abu Sayyaf members kidnapped Van along with five other fellow crew members of MV 16 cargo vessel. He is the third Vietnamese brutally executed by the terror group.
His two companions identified as Hoang Trung Thong and Hoang Van Hai were beheaded by the terrorists on July 4. They had been held hostage for eight months before they were executed by their captors.
Only one of Vietnamese sailors was rescued and brought back to Vietnam, as two other Vietnamese are still held captive by the Daesh-linked group.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding 16 foreigners and four Filipinos.