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Philippine officials confirm Canadian hostage was beheaded

  • MILITANT VIDEO VIA AP VIDEO, FILE

    This file image made from undated militant video shows Canadians Robert Hall, left, and John Ridsdel, right. Police found a severed head in the southern Philippines on June 13 and are examining whether it belonged to Canadian hostage Robert Hall, who is believed to have been beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants after a ransom deadline passed, officials said. Ridsdel was beheaded in April.

MANILA » Philippine officials confirmed Tuesday that Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded a Canadian man, the second Canadian hostage to be killed in two months after their demands for a large ransom were not met.

The hostage, Robert Hall, was abducted from a marina last September along with another Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipino. The other Canadian, former mining executive John Ridsdel, was beheaded in April.

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma condemned “the brutal and senseless murder” of Hall. He had been held by the Abu Sayyaf in the jungles of southern Sulu province for nine months.

“This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government’s resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry,” he said in a statement.

A militant video obtained by Philippine police officials and seen by The Associated Press showed Hall in an orange shirt and kneeling in front of a black Islamic State-style flag before he was killed in a jungle area.

An Abu Sayyaf deadline for the payment of a large ransom lapsed Monday and police later found a severed head of a Caucasian man outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Sulu province’s main Jolo town.

In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “compelling reason to believe” that Hall had been killed by his captors, and that the Canadian government was working with Philippine authorities to confirm his death.

“We have every reason to believe that the reports are unfortunately true,” Trudeau said.

He said he was “horrified” by the killings and reaffirmed Canada’s refusal to pay ransoms.

“The government of Canada will not and cannot pay ransoms for hostages to terrorist groups, as doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“We are more committed than ever to working with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for these heinous acts and bring them to justice, however long it takes.”

Trudeau recently urged leaders of other members of the Group of Seven rich nations to reiterate their opposition to paying ransoms.

After being abducted from the marina on southern Samal Island last September, the hostages were taken by boat to Sulu, where the Abu Sayyaf has held hostages for years in mountainous jungle camps.

Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25 after a ransom demand of 300 million pesos ($6.3 million) was not paid.

In an Abu Sayyaf video posted on YouTube after Ridsdel’s death, Hall and the two other hostages, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino woman Marites Flor, pleaded to Canadian and Philippine officials to negotiate their release.

“We live like this every day, go to bed like this,” Hall said, raising his arms to show that he was handcuffed. We have a hundred people heavily armed around us all the time that dictate to us and talk to us like children. We’ve been humiliated in every way possible. One of us has already been murdered.”

Hall spoke later in the video for a second time, sounding resigned to a tragic fate.

“I would also like to thank my family for the effort they put in — my family and friends for the effort they put in — to get me out of here. I know you did everything you can, and I truly appreciate it. I’m sorry I got you in this mess,” he said.

Trudeau extended his “heartfelt condolences” to Hall’s relatives and friends.

The United States and the Philippines have both listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. The group emerged in the early 1990s as an extremist offshoot of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the country’s south.

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  • Funny how you have to read to the very last sentence for some indication that the beheaders are Muslims. And then it’s almost an apologetic mention as “an extremist offshoot of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion.” More bluntly and accurately, of course, Abu Sayyaf is only the most violent of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines, and it claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

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