MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has asked Philippine authorities to punish kidnappers who reportedly beheaded a Malaysian man in the southern Philippines, saying he and his people were “shocked and sickened” by the savage act.
The Philippine military said Tuesday that it is verifying intelligence reports that the militants killed Bernard Then Ted Fen in a jungle in Sulu province, where the militants are holding other foreign and Filipino kidnap victims.
In a statement posted on his Facebook account late Tuesday, Najib called on Philippine authorities “to take action against those who have perpetrated this savage and barbaric act and ensure that they are brought to justice.”
“I, the government, and all Malaysians are shocked and sickened by the murder of our countryman Bernard Then and we condemn it in its strongest terms,” said Najib, who is in Manila to attend an annual summit of Asia Pacific leaders.
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He said Malaysia will cooperate with the Philippine investigation of Then’s killing.
Then was abducted with a compatriot, Thien Nyuk Fun, by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in May in the Malaysian state of Sabah and taken by boat across the sea border to Sulu. Thien was freed earlier this month after a ransom was reportedly paid.
The United States and the Philippines have listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for conducting kidnappings, beheadings, extortion and bomb attacks. The al-Qaida-linked militants have been weakened but have survived more than a decade of U.S.-backed offensives.
The Abu Sayyaf has been suspected of kidnapping two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from a marina in the south in September. Militants who identified themselves in an online video as belonging to the Abu Sayyaf have demanded more than $60 million for the release of the three foreigners.