ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 7, 2011) – Patrolling government troops have recovered human remains in a shallow grave inside a cave once used by al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said Friday.
Officials said soldiers buried the skeletal remains believed to be a victim of the Abu Sayyaf in the strife-torn Muslim province. The bones were discovered over the weekend in the hinterland village of Silangkum in Tipo-Tipo town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf blamed for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the southern Philippines.
“The skeletal remains could possibly come from a heavily-built, tall person believed to be beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf since the area was their known safe haven. The exhumed bones were decently buried by the soldiers in a mark grave,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman.
He said except for the skull, the skeletal remains were intact when soldiers them. “Also recovered from the cave were a man’s blue underwear, white sweatshirt, worn out pants and a red malong. Efforts are now being exerted by the Western Mindanao Command to identify the remains,” Cabangbang said. The Abu Sayyaf is known to decapitate its kidnapped victims whose families failed to pay ransom in exchange for their safe release. A faction of the militant group headed by Nur Hassan Jamiri is still holding a trader, Larry Tam Delos Santos, in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Delos Santos was seized in his farm resort in Isabela City on December 16. The abduction came two days after Abu Sayyaf rebels freed a kidnapped school principal Cecilia Sosas, who was seized on November 15, after negotiators paid P200,000 ransom.
Kidnappings-for-ransom are not uncommon in Basilan where dozens of people had been seized over the years and most of them freed in exchange for huge ransoms. (Mindanao Examiner)