Hostages held by Abu Sayyaf in Philippines make video plea after beheading of Canadian

By Martin Smith

MANILA, May 4 (UPI) -- Three hostages being held by militants in the southern Philippines have appeared in a video, pleading with their governments to meet their captors' demands.

New footage appearing on jihadi websites, shows Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipino Marites Flor being held at gunpoint in the jungle by six Islamic extremists from the Abu Sayyaf group.


In the footage, which appears to be from a hand-held camera, a masked militant warns Canada and the Philippines that the three men will be killed "if you procrastinate once again."

And hostage Sekkingstad pleads, "If the demand is not met we will be executed like our friend John was a few days ago."

The same separatists claimed responsibility for the April 25 beheading of former Canadian journalist John Ridsdel in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, after they failed to get a ransom of $6.3 million.

Ridsdel, 68, from Calgary, and the three surviving hostages were captured last September by Abu Sayyaf, which has reportedly demanded about $20 million for their release.


They were abducted from Oceanview Resort on Samal Island by nearly a dozen militants posing as tourists, and authorities believe they were taken to the jungles of Jolo Island.

In the new video, the hostages say if the demands are not met "we will be executed like our friend John."

The Canadian and Philippines governments have said they will not give in to ransom demands. The Philippines has also launched a military operation against the militant group.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted, "The government of Canada is committed to working with the government of [the] Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice."

Despite reportedly having a few hundred armed followers, Abu Sayyaf, which was founded in 1991, has managed to survive numerous attacks by the Philippine army. It aims to establish an independent Islamic state on Mindanao, the southernmost major island of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

The group, which has been designated a terror organization by the Philippines, the United States and the United Nations, swore loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in 2014. It has intensified its fundraising drive by kidnapping hostages.


Just last Sunday, the group released 10 Indonesian sailors they had been holding for five weeks. It is thought to be still holding Dutch birdwatcher taken in 2012, and eight Malaysians and Indonesians seized from boats.

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