Apr 19, 9:47 AM EDT
*7 Hostages Beheaded in Philippines*
MANILA, Philippines AP) (AP) -- The heads of seven men who were
kidnapped by Muslim extremists on a volatile southern island were
delivered to a Philippine army detachment on Thursday, officials said.
The men - six road project workers and a dried-fish factory worker -
were kidnapped at gunpoint in two separate incidents Monday near the
town of Parang.
Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of military forces on Jolo island,
said a group of civilians was ordered to take the heads to Parang by
Muslim rebel commander Habier Malik, whose men have been battling troops
since last week.
"This is a retaliation for the killing of one of their commanders,"
Rafael said. "This is a terrorist act that should be condemned by all."
He said the company which employed the road workers had refused to pay a
Malik, who heads a breakaway faction of a group called the Moro National
Liberation Front, is accused of launching mortar attacks on two marine
camps, a town hall and residential areas on Jolo since Friday. The
attacks have sparked clashes with troops that have killed at least 21
people and displaced 45,000 villagers.
He also is suspected to have joined forces with the al-Qaida-linked Abu
Sayyaf terrorist group.
Abu Sayyaf is on a list of U.S. terrorist groups and has a reputation
for bombings, mass abductions and beheadings in the Philippines. It has
been the target of a massive U.S.-backed military offensive on Jolo that
started in August and has resulted in the deaths of its top two leaders.