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Severed head of Malaysian engineer found in sack

This article is more than 12 months old

M'sian engineer had been held by Abu Sayyaf since May before being executed

A severed head, believed to be that of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, was found near a municipal council building in Jolo island, in Sulu province in the Philippines, on Tuesday evening, according to southern Philippines police officials.

Jolo police chief Junpikar Sitin told The Star that a street sweeper found the head inside a sack with the words "Bernard Then Ted Fen".

He said they immediately cordoned off the area and took the remains away at about 10.30pm.

Said Mr Sitin: "We have turned over the head to the military task force for preservation and DNA tests."

He said he could not explain why the 39-year-old Sarawakian engineer was executed while negotiations were going on for his release.

"We are still investigating," he said, adding that only a DNA test could confirm Mr Then's death.

The body of Mr Then, who had been beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group at about 4pm on Tuesday, was reportedly buried not far from the vicinity of Barangay Tanan in Indanan, Sulu, where he was mostly held during his more than six months of captivity.

Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said the beheading occurred as the military launched an artillery attack on the hostage-takers' position in Jolo.

Mr Then and another Malaysian, Ms Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, from Sabah, were taken from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan, Sabah, on May 15.

Ms Thien was released on Nov 8 and has kept a low profile since her return to Sabah.

Mr Then's family has appealed to the Philippine and Malaysian governments to expedite the search for his remains and repatriate it home, liberal news portal Malaysian Insider reported.

Breaking the silence on the beheading, Mr Then's brother, Christopher, also thanked well-wishers for their prayers and support in the months before the tragic news.

He said: "For the last 188 days, we lived with hope, yet hopelessness. With this dreaded news, we continue to pray for the repose of his soul.

"We hope the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines will expedite the search and repatriation of his body home."


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the beheading as a savage and barbaric act, AFP reported.

"I, the government, and all Malaysians are shocked and sickened by the murder of our countryman Bernard Then, and we condemn it in its strongest terms," Mr Najib said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Mr Najib, who is in Manila for an Asia-Pacific summit, called for action against "those who have perpetrated this savage and barbaric act and ensure that they are brought to justice".

For the last 188 days, we lived with hope, yet hopelessness. With this dreaded news, we continue to pray for the repose of his soul.

- Mr Bernard Then's brother, Christopher

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