ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two suspected Abu Sayyaf members said to be involved in sea-jacking and kidnappings in the waters off Sabah and Tawi-Tawi, were separately arrested in Tawi-Tawi on Thursday morning.
Brigadier General Custodio Parcon, commander of Joint Task Forces Tawi-Tawi and the trilateral maritime patrol INDOMALPHI (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines), confirmed the arrest of Ara Samindi in Lagaan Island in Taganak town, and Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Omar Harun alias Abu Halipa in Poblacion Taganak, also in Taganak.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Parcon saying that Samindi and Harun were connected to the Abu Sayyaf group operating in Sulu and were included in Malaysia’s 23 high-profile Abu Sayyaf wanted list.
Meanwhile, the Philippine military on Thursday confirmed the death of a Vietnamese sailor who was held captive by ASG.
Tran Viet Van’s body was found Saturday after troops clashed with the ASG in the southern island-province of Sulu, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said without providing details.
Radio Free Asia, a sister entity of BenarNews, broke the news about the sailor’s death. It quoted Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry but said it was not clear whether Van was killed by ASG or by military forces during the chaos of the raid.
Van was one of six sailors who were taken hostage by ASG in February while aboard the Giang Hai, a vessel that was shipping cement from Indonesia to the Philippines. The gunmen shot and killed another hostage and four are thought to remain in captivity.
Van’s body was found just a week after Filipino authorities discovered the decapitated bodies of Hoang Van Hai and Hoang Trung Thong on Basilan, another island in the southern Philippines.
Hai, Thong, and four other Vietnamese crew members of the cargo ship MV Royal 16 were taken hostage by ASG in November.
Filipino troops rescued a third crewman, Hoang Vo, last month, but three others remain in captivity. The Vietnamese embassy in Manila could not be reached for comment.