DUTCH EWOLD Horn, a birdwatcher who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in 2012, was killed Friday morning by his captors in Patikul, Sulu, as he tried to escape amid the week-long intense offensive launched by the military against the bandit group, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) reported.
“Horn was shot by one of his guards when he tried to escape from the Abu Sayyaf during this morning’s gunfight,” Brig. Gen. Divino Rey C. Pabayo, Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said in a statement released by the WestMinCom.
Mr. Horn, the longest held captive of the militant group, was taken in the waters off Panglima Sugala in Tawi-Tawi on February 1, 2012, along with Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a fellow birdwatcher.
During a military operation in December 2014, also in Patikul, Mr. Vinciguerra was rescued after he fought off his captors.
Mr. Pabayo said the Dutch man was being held by the group of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron.
“Military troops established blockade and encountered Sahiron’s group, composed of 30 fighters at 7:41 a.m,… leading to more than an hour of gunfight that killed six bandits and wounded 12 more,” Mr. Pabayo said.
In the aftermath of the battle, soldiers recovered Mr. Horn’s body along with that of Mingayan Sahiron, the second wife of the Abu Sayyaf leader.
“We condemn the inhumane acts carried out by Abu Sayyaf members against their captives and the innocent in Sulu. They perpetrate violence without compunction and in blatant disregard for human life,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel B. Dela Vega, WestMinCom chief.
The military has launched relentless offensives in Patikul since last weekend after two children were killed and three other civilians were wounded in Barangay Igasan on May 25 when some 30 Abu Sayyaf members attacked their community.
Mr. Pabayo then said that the group, which has terrorist ties, was “enraged with the civilians for cooperating with” the military.
At least seven Abu Sayyaf members died and several others were wounded in clashes over the past week, according to the military. On the government side, several soldiers have been wounded.
Intensified operations against the Abu Sayyaf have been ongoing since late last year following troop reinforcement and an order from President Rodrigo R. Duterte, whose offer to “talk” in July was ignored by the militant group.
The military further stepped up offensives in late January this year after the cathedral twin bombings in Sulu’s capital, Jolo, with the perpetrators linked to the group.