MANILA   -  Philippine troops have found the body of an Indonesian kidnap victim in Sulu province in the southern Philippines, the military said on Thursday.

Lieutenant Colonel Ruben Guinolbay, the commanding officer of the Army’s 45th Infantry Battalion, said troops found the body in Patikul town in Sulu on Tuesday afternoon while pursuing terrorists.

The military did not identify the kidnap victim but said he could be one of the five Indonesian fishermen abducted by the Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sabah waters in January.

Guinolbay said the troops were “scouring” the route taken by the fleeing terrorists when they found the body about 300 meters from the encounter site in Maligay, a village near Patikul town.

Major General Corleto Vinluan, the commander general of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the abductors killed the kidnap victim while attempting to escape during the gun-battle. Abu Sayyaf Group is considered the smallest but the most violent extremist group in the southern Philippines. The group, which has an estimated 200 fighters, is active in the impoverished island provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

The group is responsible for the series of kidnappings-for-ransom, deadly bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion in the Mindanao region.

The group, which has been terrorizing the Philippine southern region since the 1990s, preys on foreign tourists, businessmen, and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia and hide them in Philippine jungles or remote islands.