Islamic extremists killed a German woman and abducted her elderly male companion from their yacht off the southern Philippines, the military said.
A commander of the Abu Sayyaf group, which has earned millions of dollars by kidnapping foreigners and killing others after ransom demands were not met, claimed responsibility for the latest incidents, regional military spokesman Filemon Tan told Agence France-Presse.
It appeared the victims were the same as those abducted by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden and held hostage for 52 days in 2008, the news agency said.
The husband and wife were released at that time after a ransom was paid, the report said.
Tan said the military had recovered the couple’s yacht, named Rockall, and the body of a naked white woman who had been shot was aboard.
He said the military had listened to an audio recording of a known Abu Sayyaf leader claiming responsibility for the raid on the yacht, and the abducted German man also spoke on the phone call.
The abducted man identified himself as Jurgen Kantner, aged 70, and his companion as Sabine, according to Tan.
Tan said the passports of Kantner and Sabine Merz were found on the boat.
He said the photo in Merz’s passport appeared to match the body of the dead woman aboard, although her identity still needed to be confirmed.
Muamar Askali, who claimed to speak for Abu Sayyaf, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Merz had tried to shoot members of the extremist group.
“Our men shot back and killed her,” Askali was quoted as saying.
Askali said they chanced upon the couple aboard their yacht cruising the waters off Tanjong Luuk Pisuk in Sabah.
The shooting happened somewhere in Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday, he said.
Villagers found the woman’s body on board the yacht off Laparan Island in Sulu, Tan said.
In Berlin, the German government said it had yet to verify the media reports.
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