"Boy Tattoo" who beheaded Canadians killed in Philippines

Philippine troops say they have killed the terrorist guerilla who beheaded Canadian hostages John Risdel and Robert Hall a year ago.

"This is a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf".

Gen. Eduardo Ano, the military's chief of staff, said troops recovered and identified the remains of Moammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami, at the scene of the battle in a far-flung coastal village on Bohol island.

At least nine people are said to have been killed - five gunmen, three soldiers and a policeman.

"Abu Rami is a young, aggressive and upcoming leader... who has the potential of being the next leader of the Abu Sayyaf".

He said Abu Rahmi was behind a 2015 raid on the southern island resort of Samal in which four tourists - two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina - were snatched. "If they have further plans to kidnap innocent people somewhere, they will now have to think twice". Its leaders have also pledged allegiance to Islamic State gunmen in Iraq and Syria.

A confidential government threat assessment report obtained by the AP past year said that the militants have started to target slow-moving tugboats crisscrossing the Sulu Sea and the busy sea border between the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia in their effort to avoid constant military offensives in the southern provinces where they operate and raise desperately needed funds.

Bohol - an island province - lies near Cebu province, a bustling commercial and tourism hub.

"If we were not able to monitor this and engage them with our government forces, it's a cause for alarm if they were able to carry out kidnappings", dela Rosa said.

The gun fight came after British, U.S., Canadian and Australian embassies advised travelers not to go to Central Visayas, which included Philippine provinces Cebu and Bohol. Elderly German Jurgen Kantner suffered the same fate in February when a US$600,000 (RM2.6 million) ransom demand was not paid.

It was Abu Sayyaf's first known attempt to carry out ransom kidnappings in the central Philippines, far from the group's jungle lairs in the southern provinces of Sulu and Basilan. In 2001, they seized three Americans and 17 local tourists from a high-end resort off Puerto Princesa city in Palawan.

Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asian security expert at the National War College in the United States, told AFP the Abu Sayyaf likely sent its gunmen to Bohol "to kidnap and sow panic".

The kidnap-for-ransom group also beheaded two Canadian tourists previous year. He was involved in what the army said was a thwarted attempt to kidnap tourists in Bohol during Holy Week in the mainly Roman Catholic nation.

The militants are still holding at least 29 captives in Sulu's jungles.

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  • Leroy Wright