ZAMBOANGA CITY –Government troops recovered on Sunday the decapitated remains of a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) combatant turned soldier who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) three days ago in Sulu.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the troops found the remains of SSgt. Anni Siraji two-and-a-half kilometers from the place where he was abducted in the town of Patikul on Thursday, April 20.
“His body was recovered at around 3 p.m. today. The body is now at the hospital morgue inside our camp. We are already preparing the body for the victim’s family to claim and give proper interment rites,” Sobejana told the Philippines News Agency in a phone interview.
Siraji, who was assigned with the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion, was forcibly taken by about seven Abu Sayyaf bandits at around 9:30 a.m. on April 23 while he was heading to Barangay Igasan, Patikul, Sulu.
According to Sobejana, the victim was executed “hastily” following the military’s pursuit operations.
“The body is on a state of decomposition. The head of the victim was found 50 meters from the body. He was not buried. Our assessment is that he was executed roughly three days ago,” he said.
He blamed the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan for the execution.
“One of the reasons is to retaliate the deaths of (Abu Sayyaf leader) Muamar Aksali and other ASG members in Bohol,” he said, referring to the failed attempt of the ASG to abduct tourists in Bohol during the Holy Week.
Siraji is a native of Sulu who joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines following the signing by the government and the MNLF of the 1996 peace agreement.
Sobejana noted the victim was on a non-combat mode when the bandits snatched him
The victim, he said, is active especially on peace efforts in Patikul town.
“Siraji has been active in getting the support of the community to fight against the Abu Sayyaf. He is very effective on that mission,” he said, condemning the bandits for the execution.
Sobejana said the Abu Sayyaf’s area is getting smaller because the people on the ground “are already angry on their terroristic activities.”
Currently, the military is working under the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to address the problem of the ASG in six months that started since January.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding 27 hostages, mostly foreigners.
So far, there are about 50 ASG members who have been killed, while 17 have surrendered in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi since January