Two Japanese tourists taking a boat ride around islands in southwestern Philippines were allegedly shot dead, and their bodies cut into pieces and thrown into the sea, local officials said.
The tourists were reported missing since 30 May and authorities initially suspected the role of Abu Sayyaf militants, who are known for abducting foreign tourists.
However, the Philippines coast guard said on Sunday (4 June) that three men, including the boat owner, have admitted to killing the Japanese tourists in Palawan province. The suspects were identified as Aladin Mohameran, Reynante Labampa and boat owner Michael "Don-don" Suangco, Lonie Zamora, a spokesperson for Palawan coast guard, said. The motive for the ghastly crime is not known.
Yoshihiro Arai, 24, and Masaru Itani, 59, had reportedly rented Suangco's boat to take a tour of the surrounding islands in Palawan on the day of their disappearance. A missing report was filed on 31 May by the staff of GMG Hotel, where the victims had checked in a day before.
The coast guard spokesman said the suspects reported the location of the crime to the police and admitted that they first shot the two men dead and later chopped their bodies and threw the pieces into the sea. They also admitted to sinking the boat before leaving for Coron town, Palawan, on 30 May, ABS-CBN News wrote.
"We have yet to find the bodies of the victims to check the veracity of their confessions," Zamora said. The Philippines Task Force is reportedly scouring the sea to retrieve the bodies of the victims.
Meanwhile, investigators have summoned another Japanese national, Hiroyuki Nagaham, for interrogation. The man - a businessman from Puerto Princesa City - is accused of masterminding the killings. Three other accomplices have also been identified, police reportedly said.