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Filipino gravesites located six years after kidnap and execution by ISIS

The gravesites of four Filipino oil workers who had been kidnapped and later executed by ISIS in Derna, Libya, six years ago were finally located, the Philippine Embassy in Libya informed Libya Herald. The gravesites were located on Monday with the help of the eastern Libyan authorities.

“After six long years, the families of our four kababayan will finally find closure,” Embassy Chargé d’Affaires and Head of Mission Elmer G. Cato said. “We are indebted to our Libyan friends for making this possible.”

The four Filipinos have been missing since they were forcibly taken along with two co-workers from Austria and the Czech Republic by ISIS militants who attacked the Ghani Oil Field in southern Libya on 6 March 2015.

The six, who were employed by the Austrian contractor Value Added Oil Services (VAOS), had been presumed dead after a video footage of their execution was found in a laptop captured from slain ISIS fighters in Derna in 2017.

Their bodies, however, were never recovered. Sometime in 2018, Cato said the Embassy was informed that the remains of the four missing Filipinos could be among those that have been recovered by the Libyan Red Crescent in various parts of Derna and later buried there. However, due to the unstable security situation, the Embassy was not able send a team to Derna to search for the four Filipinos.

It was only in October that Embassy officials were able to travel to Benghazi and request the assistance of authorities in finding the four. On Monday, Libyan military authorities led Cato and other Embassy officials to the Dahr Ahmar Islamic Cemetery 10 kilometers from Derna, where they said Donato Santiago, Gregorio Titan, Roldan Blaza, and Wilson Eligue were buried after their bodies were recovered six years ago.

The Embassy interviewed Libyan Red Crescent volunteers who were part of the team that retrieved and later buried the remains of the six as well as another volunteer who oversees burials at the Dahr Ahmar cemetery. The Embassy said the volunteers were convinced that the bodies they buried there belonged to the six kidnapped foreign oil workers.

Cato said the Embassy has conveyed the latest development to the families in the Philippines of the four Filipinos and will make arrangements for forensics experts to assist in identifying the remains and bringing them home.

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