German yachtsman kidnapped, his wife killed, Philippines
Philippine-based terrorist group Abu Sayyaf have abducted an elderly German sailor and killed his wife, Filipino military officials have confirmed.
Major Filemon Tan, a regional military spokesman, announced on Monday that the body of a naked woman has been found in an abandoned yacht in Sulu, which is a stronghold of the terrorist group.
On Nov6, the terrorists had announced that they have a 70-year-old German captive. The captive identified himself during a phone call with the Inquirer as Jurgen Kantner. He also identified his partner as Sabrina. Tan confirmed the identity of the couple.
This is not the first time the German couple has been attacked at sea. Jurgen Kantner and Sabrina Merz were kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2008, the Strait Times reported. A ransom was paid to secure their release after over 50 days in the grips of pirates.
While speaking to the media on Sunday, Muammar Askali, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for Abu Sayyaf, said that Merz had tried to shoot at them and so they killed her. He described the incident as “unfortunate.”
Maj. Tan said the couple’s boat, named Rockall, was discovered by a civilian, who alerted the authorities. The boat reportedly had the German flag on it. Tan said a shotgun was found beside Merz’s body, according to the Mindanao Examiner.
Philippine Navy board the yacht marked “Rockall” after being found abandoned off the Sulu Sea in southern Philippines over the weekend.
“The body found was naked and had several contusions to the face and was possibly raped,” he added.
Jurgen Kantner appealed to the German embassy in the Philippines to come to his aid. Tan said the couple’s passports were found aboard the yacht.
Abu Sayyaf is known to kidnap foreigners for ransom, but the group is yet to make a demand for ransom money to free Kantner.
Abu Sayyaf, which has been in existence for over two decades, is described as one of the “smallest and most violent” Islamic terrorist groups in the Philippines, according to the BBC. The group, which says it is fighting for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines, has been linked to several criminal activities, including bombings and kidnapping incidents.
Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the single most deadly terrorist attack in the history of the Philippines – a ferry bombing in Manila Bay in 2004 which claimed the lives of about 116 people. This year, the terrorist group has beheaded two Canadian captives after authorities in Ottawa refused to pay a ransom to secure their release.
Abu Sayyaf continues to operate in the region despite U.S.-backed operations to stamp out the jihadist network. The group is believed to have amassed millions of dollars through ransom payments. The group is believed to currently be holding up to 15 people in captivity, including a citizen of Holland.
Germany is one of the European countries known to pay ransoms to secure the release of its citizens. German authorities allegedly paid up to $600,000 to secure the release of Jurgen Kantner and Sabrina Merz from Somali pirates in 2008, according to the Strait Times.
Despite admittedly being intimated and subjected to a mock execution during the “painful” abduction of him and his wife in Somalia, Kantner returned to the country in 2009 to retrieve his yacht.
“They think that I’m insane, they call me the crazy white guy or the mad German sailor but they don’t know how important my boat is to me,” Kantner said during an interview with The Local in Somaliland in 2009. “My boat is my life and I don’t want to lose her, nothing more. I don’t care about pirates and the governments.”
After his experience at the hands of Somali pirates, Kantner revealed that he was considering buying a gun to provide some security during his sailing trips.