IS-linked group beheads 2 captive sawmill workers

SUSPECTED Moro bandits have beheaded two kidnapped sawmill workers while four other captives have been freed in a brutal act that appears to have been influenced by the Islamic State group's style of killings, military and police officials said Thursday.

Army Colonel Roseller Murillo said police retrieved the bodies of the two workers, who were made to wear orange gowns, in a village in Butig, Lanao del Sur, on Tuesday, April 12.

The six workers were kidnapped by gunmen on April 5 in Butig. Four were released over the weekend after their employer negotiated with their captors, police said.

The kidnappings and beheadings have been blamed on the largely unknown Maute group of bandits, who authorities said have ties with Islamic terrorists from Indonesia and have used black clothing with the symbol of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The bandits staged a brazen attack on an Army outpost in Butig town in February, sparking a major military offensive and days of fighting that killed 24 gunmen and six soldiers, one of whom was beheaded.

A number of small Muslim bandit factions in Mindanao, home of minority Muslims in the Philippines, have expressed support to the Islamic State group on online videos, but the military said there has been no evidence of any direct and active collaborations. (AP)

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