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By Will Racke
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte ratcheted up his already belligerent rhetoric against Islamic militants late Wednesday, saying he would gladly eat alive any jihadi fighters who threaten Southeast Asia.
Duterte’s graphic remarks came in response to the discovery of the bodies of two Vietnamese sailors who had been kidnapped and executed by Abu Sayyaf, the Philippine militant group loyal to ISIS. Duterte boasted he would not hesitate to seek retribution in the most personal way. (RELATED: Duterte Orders Troops To Fire On Civilians If It Means They Can Kill More Terrorists)
“I eat everything. I am not picky. I eat even what cannot be swallowed.”
The bodies of the two Vietnamese hostages, who were kidnapped along with four other crew members of a Vietnamese cargo ship in November last year, were recovered in region of Mindanao by Philippine authorities on Wednesday. The military has blamed the killings on Abu Sayyaf, which often beheads its victims unless ransom payments are made, reports AFP.
Philippine government forces are currently fighting an Islamist insurgency in the southern part of the country. Factions of Abu Sayyaf, a homegrown terrorist group that formed in the 1990s, have pledged allegiance to ISIS and have joined militants in an insurgency in Marawi, the largest Muslim-majority city in the mostly Catholic country.
ISIS fighters continue to occupy Marawi in the face of a U.S.-backed offensive in which nearly 500 people have been killed and 400,000 displaced.
Duterte, who often makes furious proclamations in response to Islamist attacks, denounced the militants in graphic fashion. Holding up a phone with photos of the dead Vietnamese sailors, he asked, “Will we allow ourselves to be enslaved by these people?”
Vietnam’s foreign ministry condemned the killing of the two sailors and called for punishment on Wednesday. Three of the six crewmen remain in captivity after one was rescued last month, according to Philippine officials.