KOTA KINABALU: Sarawakian Bernard Then (pic), held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terror group, has been killed in the southern Philippines.
He was beheaded by the gunmen at about 4pm in the island of Jolo.
Then is the first Malaysian hostage to have been beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf.
Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, confirmed that Then was decapitated.
Sources from the military and social workers in the Philippines are indicating that the 39-year-old electrical engineer was killed by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen who were being pursued by Philippine military in the Butaran Hill area around Indanan village in Jolo island.
According to Jolo-based social workers, the Abu Sayyaf plan to release a video of the alleged beheading soon.
They said they received news of the beheading, but could not confirm which Abu Sayyaf leader carried out the killing.
The group holding Then was led by Indang Susukan.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said that they have yet to receive any word about Then, who was grabbed along with restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, from Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on May 15.
Thien was released on Nov 8 by the gunmen and is now back in Sandakan.
Unmet ransom demands led to Then's beheading, says Philippine military