Abu Sayyaf militants have beheaded a kidnapped soldier who was part of the government's peace efforts, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Sunday.
The head of Sergeant Anni Siraji of the Army's 32nd Infantry Battalion was found 50 metres away from his body in Patikul town in Sulu, said Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
The killing happened just hours after government troops killed three more members of the Islamic State-linked group in a clash in Bohol.
Sobejana said Siraji was probably abducted and executed because of his involvement in peace initiatives in Sulu.
"Itong tao ay gumagawa ng peace efforts. Hindi ito combatant eh. Ginagamit namin to engage the stakeholders dahil kapareho nilang Tausug, at nakikita nilang effective itong tao and he significantly contributed na magiging 'yung community will not give support to ASG," he said.
"Kaya nasasaktan 'yung ASG dahil nawalan silang community support because of the effort nitong Staff Sergeant na hinuli nila at pinugutan nila eventually," he added.
"Talagang we condemn itong barbaric acts na ginagawa ng mga Abu Sayyaf. Ano nila, kapareho nilang Tausug pero... ginawa pa rin nila 'yung karumal dumal na pagpugot," Sobejana said.
[With reports from Reuters, GMA News. Photo: BBC]