MANILA (4th UPDATE)—Abu Sayyaf bandits on Friday killed a Dutch birdwatcher as he tried to escape captors amid military offensives in Patikul town, Sulu.
In a statement, the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) said the remains of Ewold Horn, who was abducted in 2012, was recovered after a gun battle that last 90 minutes in Sitio Bud Sub-Sub in Barangay Pansul.
His remains were boarded on a plane that departed Jolo airport late Friday afternoon and was expected to be turned over to representatives of the Dutch Embassy, Wesmincom spokesperson Col. Gerry Besana said in a statement Friday night.
The body of Mingayan Sahiron, second wife of Abu leader Radullan Sahiron, was also found.
“Horn was shot by one of his guards when he tried to escape from the Abu Sayyaf during this morning’s gunfight,” said Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Sulu.
Horn bore a gunshot wound in his head when troops found him, Pabayo added.
Horn, the remaining foreign kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf, was abducted in the waters off Parangan village in Panglima Sugala town, Tawi-Tawi on February 1, 2012 and was held captive by Sahiron’s group in the hinterlands of Sulu.
Pabayo said the military established a blockade and encountered Sahiron’s group of about 30 fighters at 7:41 a.m. The clash led to more than an hour of gunfight that killed 6 bandits and wounded 12 more, he said.
On the government side, 2 soldiers sustained gunshot wounds and 6 more suffered shrapnel wounds. All of them are now out of danger.
Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega condemned the killing.
“They perpetrate violence without compunction and in blatant disregard for human life. On our part, we vow to sustain our intensive campaign to defeat the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. We also extend our sincere commiseration with the bereaved family of Horn, who died in the hands of his captors,” said Dela Vega.
Malacañang extended sympathies to the family of the slain Dutch birdwatcher.
"We condemn, in the strongest terms, the death of Mr. Ewold Horn, a Dutch national kidnapped and had been held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group since 2012," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"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," he said.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines, in a Facebook post, said it is deeply saddened by Horn's death. —With reports from Michael Joe Delizo, Pia Gutierrez, and Nickee Butlangan, ABS-CBN News