Philippine militants in Mindanao (Source: AFP/VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Islamist militants in the southern Philippines have killed seven local loggers they kidnapped last week, said the Philippine police said on July 31.

The bodies of the loggers were found on July 30 in a mountainous village on the island of Basilan.

Local police blamed the killings on a faction of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group based there. However, the cause was reportedly due to a local business row rather than for its typical ransom activities.

One faction based on Basilan has pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), with members among militants who have been occupying parts of Marawi city on the southern island of Mindanao since May.

Abu Sayyaf militants are holding more than 20 hostages, including several foreigners, on Basilan and another of their bases on Sulu island.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed the whole Mindanao region under martial law within 60 days since May 23, prompted by IS-linked gunmen’s occupation of Marawi city that led to clashes killing 500 people.

Recently, the martial law has been extended till this year’s end to make it easier for security forces to sweep terrorists out of the south.-VNA