ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – A Dutch birdwatcher who had been held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group since 2012 was among the 6 killed during a firefight between the terrorist group and government troops in Patikul, Sulu, on Friday, May 31.
Also killed in the encounter was Mingayan Sahiron, wife of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, the military said.
Colonel Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), confirmed that the bodies of Ewold Horn and Mingayan Sahiron were recovered when the terror group fled after the clash with members of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battallion in Sitio Bud Sub-Sub, Barangay Pansul in Patikul town.
Besana said Horn might have been shot when he tried to escape his captors during the firefight.
Four other members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed, while 12 others were wounded said Besana.
On the government side, 8 were wounded in the encounter which lasted an hour and 30 minutes.
Besana said government troops of the 32nd IB were establishing a blocking force in Patikul in when they encountered around 30 ASG bandits under Sahiron’s command early Friday morning.
Malacañang on Friday condemned “in the strongest terms” Horn’s death.
“We express our deep condolences to Mr Horn’s family and loved ones. We vow to pursue his killers to the ends of the earth until they are brought to justice,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
In the Hague, the Nethelands, the Dutch foreign ministry announced that the 59-year-old Horn “died during an exchange of fire” and that it was investigating the circumstances of the incident.
Different operating units under the Westmincom, including K-9s, choppers, and the Philippine Air Force’s Scan Eagle, were pursuing Sahiron’s group.
The Abu Sayyaf abducted Horn and his fellow birdwatcher Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a Swiss, in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi on February 1, 2012. Vinciguerra managed to escape from his captors in December 2014, after reportedly fighting them off. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com