Philippine forces hunt for hostages after beheading

Last Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 10:58

Zamboanga: Security forces scoured jungle in the southern Philippines on Thursday for two factory workers held by al Qaeda-linked militants, after the severed head of one hostage was dumped in a park.
Police and soldiers stepped up their search on the southern island of Basilan, but the Abu Sayyaf militants had so far eluded the dragnet, provincial police chief Superintendent Abubakar Tulawie said.

"We have been on their trail, but whenever we arrive at the site where they are last reported, they are already gone," Tulawie told reporters.

Heavily armed gunmen from the Abu Sayyaf, listed by the United States as a terrorist organisation, kidnapped three workers from Hitech Wood Craft Corp in Basilan`s Maluso town on November 10.

The Abu Sayyaf, which specialises in kidnappings for ransom, had demanded 1.5 million pesos (USD 32,500) for the release of the trio, Tulawei said.

On Wednesday, the severed head of one of the hostages, Mark Singson, aged in his 20s, was found stuffed in a plastic bag after being dumped in a park on the island.

Residents had alerted police after fearing the package was a bomb.

Tulawei said the other two hostages -- Michael Tan, 27 and Oscar Lu, 51 -- were known to be alive as of Wednesday because they had been allowed to call their employer then.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 10:58

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