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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Marines kill 4 Sayyaf rebels, remains of beheaded German found in Sulu

 A forensic expert inspects the body of beheaded Abu Sayyaf hostage, German national Jurgen Kantner, who was executed February 26, 2017 in southern Philippines in one of two photos released by the Philippine military to the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper.

SULU – Marines killed 4 Abu Sayyaf rebels in a firefight before sunrise Sunday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu where security forces recovered the decapitated remains of a German sailor executed by notorious group tied to the Islamic State, officials said. 
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said troops clashed in the town of Talipao and killed the rebels. “The bodies of the slain rebels had been retrieved by soldiers, including four automatic rifles and grenade launchers,” she said. 
Petinglay said the fighting occurred just a day after marines recovered the body, including the head of Jurgen Kantner, who was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf on February 26 after his family failed to raise P30 million ransom demanded by the rebels. 
She said the decomposing remains were found in the village of Buanza in Indanan town, some 25 kilometers from Talipao. Kantner’s body brought to a military hospital in the capital town of Jolo and was turned over to police forensic experts on Sunday. 
Army Major General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, apologized to Kantner’s family and also ordered security forces to rescue over 2 dozen Asian sailors still being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in the restive region. 
“Once again, the Western Mindanao Command is sending its deep regrets to the family for not being able to rescue Mr Kantner on time and expresses its deepest sympathy to his family. Rest assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the entire Western Mindanao Command will maximize all means and efforts to rescue the remaining kidnapped victims,” Galvez said. 
Kantner was sailing in his yacht with his wife Sabine Merz, 56, when rebels intercepted their boat just off Tawi-Tawi, a province in the Muslim autonomous region, in November. The Abu Sayyaf killed Merz when she tried to fight off the rebels. Her naked body was found by soldiers on the boat. 
The military tagged Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Muamar Askali as behind the kidnapping and murder of the couple. Askali originally demanded P500 million ransom for Kantner’s safe release, but lowered this to P30 million, however, Manila also rejected the demand although it said it would not stop the German’s family to pay the ransom. The Abu Sayyaf demand was contained in a video released on February 14 on Telegram Messenger where it showed Kantner pleading to his government to save his life.  
In April 2014, Askali’s group also kidnapped two German yachters - Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, while heading to Sabah from a holiday in the Philippines and demanded P250 million in ransoms in exchange for their lives.
Askali originally demanded from Germany – on top of the ransoms - to cease all support to U.S. coalition campaign against Islamic State which is fighting for a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The duo was freed six months later after the German government paid the ransoms and reportedly delivered by Filipino security officials. (Mindanao Examiner)

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