Philippines: German couple abducted by Abu Sayyaf were former captives in Somalia
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Philippines: German couple abducted by Abu Sayyaf were former captives in Somalia

THE German couple apparently seized by Abu Sayyaf militants while sailing in the southern Philippines on Monday, were former hostages in Somalia in 2008.

Quoting a German yachting website, the New York Times reported the 70-year-old Jürgen Kantner, and his girlfriend, Sabine Merz’s, second abduction, this time by the Islamic radical group known for their kidnap-for-ransom cases, nearly a decade after the couple was held for 52 days in Somalia.

However, the woman did not survive the latest abduction as her naked body discovered on the abandoned 30-foot yacht on Monday. It was not clear why Merz was killed but it is possible she may have fought back or tried to escape, an official said.

According to the AFP, Kanther returned to Somalia in May 2009 to retrieve the German-flagged yacht, named the Rockall, to sail to Asia.

“My boat is my life and I don’t want to lose her, nothing more. I don’t care about pirates and governments,” Kantner was quoted as saying in Berbera, the main port in Somaliland, in 2009.

“Why should I return to Germany, where I have nobody?” he was quoted as saying by the NYT (via AFP). “After 32 years on my boat, I have lost all contact with them.”

SEE ALSO: Tired of combat, 11 Abu Sayyaf members surrender to Philippine govt 

The sailor said his endeavors was “a little bit like” suicide but he prayed that he would not be abducted again.

The two were seized off the coast of Yemen, which they said did not appear to have a signs of danger. After 52-days being held hostage, the two were freed after a six-figure ransom was reportedly paid.

The couple told a German magazine Yacht after the abduction in 2008 that they believe they did not court danger as other vessels were robbed in “calmer” regions such as the Canary Islands or Corsica, the NYT reported.

Yesterday, Filipino authorities scrambled to verify a claim by Abu Sayyaf militants that they have kidnapped a German man from a yacht and shot and killed his girlfriend.

Regional military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan said Monday that Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali had claimed the militants kidnapped Kantner and killed Merz while the couple were cruising off neighboring Malaysia.

SEE ALSO: Philippines: Abu Sayyaf militants free 3 more captives in Sulu 

Tan said villagers reported finding a dead woman lying beside a shotgun on board a yacht with the German flag off southern Sulu province, where the militants take their hostages.

“The cadaver was found to have had gunshot wounds and a gun was found beside the body,” he said, as quoted by the Inquirer.

Tan added the authorities were doubling up efforts to confirm the abduction claim by the rebel group.

“Efforts to validate the said information are now being done. Joint Task Force Sulu alerted its units while also intensifying info collection,” he said.

A man claiming to be a spokesperson for the Abu Sayyaf who identified himself as Muamar Askali had contacted the Inquirer on Sunday claiming to have abducted the German sailor.

Askali said Kanther’s girlfriend was killed after she tried to shoot the abductors.

Kanther had also reportedly spoken to the Inquirer, confirming his abduction.

“Pirates took our boat and they took us. We [ask] the [German] embassy to help us,” he was quoted as saying.

As at the time of this writing, the abductors have yet to make any ransom demand.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press