MANILA, Philippines — Al-Qaida-linked militants beheaded three Christian loggers in the Philippines Sunday in apparent retaliation for government offensives in the country's south, local security officials said.
The killings were carried out as the country celebrated its 112th Independence Day, the latest in a series of terror acts by the Abu Sayyaf insurgency to mark the holiday.
About 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen ran into the three men hauling timber in a rain forest near Maluso town on Basilan island Saturday. Relatives found their remains hours later, Basilan provincial police chief Antonio Mendoza said.
"When they are hurt by our offensives, they resort to these atrocities," Mendoza told The Associated Press, adding that all of Basilan's 675-strong police force, with an additional 100 police commandos, were involved in the manhunt and assaults against the militants. Hundreds of soldiers were also taking part.