The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recovered the body of one of the abducted Vietnamese nationals in the village of Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu Saturday, a military official said.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the military confirmed the identity of the body only on Monday, after forensic comparison and matching of finger prints turned out positive.
Sobejana identified the Vietnamese national as Tran Viet Van, who was among six Vietnamese crew members abducted by the bandit Abu Sayyaf group off Baguan Island in Tawi-Tawi in February.
The victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds on his body.
Sobejana could not immediately tell if Tran was deliberately shot by the bandits or was caught in the crossfire amid the fierce encounter in Patikul last Saturday.
Last week, two Filipino fishing crew members were released by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Daang Puti in Patikul.
Reyjim Rocabo and Roel Leones were safely recovered by government forces. They were among the four crew members of FB Ramona 2 abducted off Celebes Sea on Dec. 20, 2016.
The boat's captain, Noel Besconde, was beheaded by the bandits last April after a failed negotiation.
Two months later, another abducted crew member, identified as Roy Ramos, managed to escape from his captors.
Sobejana said the military conducted a focused military operation in Patikul a day after the two Filipinos were released.
It is also the same area where the body of the Vietnamese was recovered.
Sobejana believes the armed group they encountered in Patikul is the same group holding the Vietnamese nationals captive.
Efforts to safely rescue the remaining five Vietnamese captives are ongoing.
Earlier, authorities recovered the remains of two beheaded Vietnamese sailors in Basilan. The two were among six Vietnamese crewmen abducted in a separate incident in November 2016.