Philippine Army soldiers keep watch at a military checkpoint in the Sulu province, Philippines, on Monday. The Philippine government and its armed forces continue to verify reports that the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf beheaded German hostage Jurgen Kantner. Photo by Ben Hajan/EPA
Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The militant Islamist group in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, beheaded a hostage after a ransom deadline passed, the Philippine government announced Monday.
A video posted by the terrorist group, which is aligned with the Islamic State, indicated Jurgen Kantner, 70, a German national, was beheaded. He was abducted in November from his yacht as it sat in waters off Malaysia's Sabah state. The body of his companion, Sabine Merz, was found on the boat.
The deadline for payment of a $600,000 ransom demand was Sunday.
Philippine presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said the government condemned "the barbaric beheading."
"Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the armed forces of the Philippines, exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best, but to no avail," he said.
An official of the German government said it was working to authenticate the video, which was distributed by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Philippine armed forces conducted airstrikes on Abu Sayyaf positions over the weekend, and has dealt with the insurgent group's bombings and abductions since the 1990s. Although the country is overwhelmingly Catholic, the islands of the southern Philippines have a significant and restive Muslim population. Abu Sayyaf, a notoriously violent organization, has between 200 and 400 members, CNN reported.
Somali pirates also kidnapped Kantner and Merz in 2008. They were held for 52 days and released after a ransom was paid.