On Wednesday, July 5, the decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese sailors previously held hostage by Abu Sayyaf were found by Philippine soldiers in Sumisip, Basilan province. The two men were part of a group of six Vietnamese sailors kidnapped for ransom on November 11, 2016, near the southern region of Mindanao. According to officials, one of the six sailors was released last month, while the remaining three are believed to still be in captivity.
Kidnapping is common in the southern Phillipines. Abu Sayyaf is known for kidnapping people for ransom in southwest Mindanao (especially in Zamboanga province) and in the Sulu Archipelago (Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces). Sailors and foreigners are regularly abducted in the Sulu Sea. Abu Sayyaf beheaded a German hostage on February 27 in Indanan on Sulu Archipelago after the deadline for the payment of his ransom passed. In late April 2016, Abu Sayyaf executed a Canadian hostage who was captured in September 2015 on Jolo Island and beheaded two Canadian hostages in mid-June 2016 after failing to receive a ransom for their release. It is estimated that 22 people are still being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf, including 16 foreign nationals.
Individuals present in the Philippines are advised to remain vigilant at all times and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the relevant authorities. Sailing in the Sulu Sea should be prohibited due to the high risk of kidnapping.