MANILA (UPDATE) - Government forces have recovered the body of an Indonesian kidnap victim while pursuing members of Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, the military said Wednesday.
Indonesian authorities and the victim's family identified him as 35-year-old La Aba, Joint Task Force Sulu said in a statement issued Friday.
"Based on the medical findings, no gunshot wounds were found all over the body. However, a bruise was seen on his head. The cause of death is yet to be determined," the statement read.
JTF Sulu commander, Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, earlier said the victim was among 5 Indonesian fishermen abducted by the terror group in Sabah in January this year.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), also said the victim could have been killed while trying to escape from his abductors.
Members of the 45th Infantry Battalion found the victim some 300 meters from the clash site in Barangay Maligay, Patikul on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, who authorities say is a cousin of the mastermind of the Aug. 24, 2020 explosions in Jolo, was killed by government forces.
The military also said they were continuing their rescue operations for the 4 other kidnap victims.
Gonzales said the terror group's forces were "deteriorating due to the heavy casualties they incurred in the series of encounters and mass surrenders for a period of one month."
"In as much as we want to finish the ASG the soonest possible time, the safety of the kidnap victims during operations is our equally significant concern. We abide on rules of engagement during armed encounters to safely rescue the KVs (kidnap victims) and destroy the ASG," he said.
Government forces rescued couple Allan and Wilma Hyrons in November 2019, Dr. Daniel Moreno in March 2020 and 3 Indonesians in December 2019 and January 2020, respectively.