A Vietnamese sailor from a crew held for five months by Islamic militants in the Philippines was killed during a firefight with Filipino troops over the weekend, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, a week after captors beheaded two other hostages when their ransom demands were not met.
Vietnam’s state media quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang confirming that the body of Tran Viet Van was discovered among “several” corpses following a Saturday raid on the Abu Sayyaf group by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the island province of Sulu.
“I am deeply saddened to affirm that the Vietnamese citizen Tran Viet Van has been killed after an attack by the Philippines military forces targeting Abu Sayyaf,” Hang said.
“We would like to send our deepest condolences to the family of Tran Viet Van and hope his family will soon overcome these painful moments of great loss to stabilize their lives.”
According to Hang, the Vietnamese embassy in the Philippines is now coordinating with local authorities to complete forensic and legal procedures, and support funeral preparations for the victim.
It was not immediately clear whether Van was killed by members of the Muslim insurgent group or by military forces during the chaos of the raid.
ABS-CBN News cited Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, as saying that the Philippines military only confirmed the identity of Van’s body on Monday, after forensic comparison and matching of finger prints turned out positive. The report said Van had “sustained multiple gunshot wounds.”
Van was one of six sailors aboard a vessel named the Giang Hai who were taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in February while shipping cement from Indonesia to the Philippines for International Shipping Co. One of the crew was later shot dead by the militants, but four remain in captivity.
News of Van’s death came a week after Filipino authorities discovered the decapitated bodies of Hoang Van Hai and Hoang Trung Thong on the island of Basilan. The two are believed to have been beheaded on July 5.
Full story: rfa.org
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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