Military confirms ASG beheading of fishing boat captain

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The Joint Task Force Sulu confirmed the beheading of the fishing boat captain who was abducted last December.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — The military confirmed a Filipino hostage was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.

The victim, Noel Besconde, was the captain who was kidnapped along with his three crew members by the Abu Sayyaf in the Celebes Sea on December 6, 2016, the miilitary said.

Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Brig. Gen. Cirilio Sobejana said Sunday that a group led by Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan beheaded Besconde.

The killing happened on April 13 at 2:30 p.m., and was verified through a video by the bandit group, Sobejana added.

"N'ung una hindi pa kami naniniwala kasi akala namin propaganda, kasi tuloy-tuloy din yung pagkalugad namin sa area," he said in a press statement.

"Kung titingnan mo yung video, hindi rin sila, like during the previous beheadings nila na may rituals, walang ritual na nangyari katulad nung ginawa nila Kantner," he added.

[Translation: At first we didn't believe it because we thought it was propaganda, because we're constantly monitoring the area. And if you look at the video, it's unlike previous beheadings, because they had rituals prior to beheading like what they did to Kantner.]

German national Juergen Kantner was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf Group on February 26 after the Abu Sayyaf's deadline for his P30 million ransom lapsed.

Related: Military recovers body of slain Abu Sayyaf hostage

Sobejana said that the bandits wanted P3 million for Besconde's freedom. But the government stood by its no-ransom policy.

Besconde was killed in the municipality of Patikul in Sulu, after the ailing captain was reported to have been slowing down the Abu Sayyaf's movement.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella sent the Palace's condolences to Besconde's family on Monday.

"We strongly condemn this senseless and cold-blooded murder committed during the Holy Week," Abella said.

"Local authorities and our security forces are exhausting all means to locate the captain's remains, as our troops continue to pursue this bandit group and hold them accountable for their crimes," he added.

Military personnel are still trying to recover Besconde's body.

The beheading comes days after a group of Abu Sayyaf traveled by boat from Sulu to the town of Inabanga in Bohol and clashed with military and police forces, leaving 10 dead.

Read more: Notorious Abu Sayyaf member among 6 bandits killed in Bohol firefight

This story was updated on April 17 to include the Palace's statement.