• Abu Sayyaf set ransom deadline for hostages


    Islamic militants holding two Canadians and a Norwegian in Mindanao have set a one-month deadline for millions of dollars in ransom to be paid, according to a video released Thursday.

    In the video posted on a local jihadist group’s Facebook page, the emaciated victims said they would be killed if the ransom was not paid.

    Canadian tourists John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were seized from yachts at a marina in the southern Philippines in September.

    While the ransom amount was not specified, the militants in an earlier video demanded P1 billion ($21 million) for each of the three foreigners, without mentioning the conditions for Flor’s release.

    Hall identified their captors as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

    He said they were being held in Sulu, a known Abu Sayyaf hideout.

    A spokesman for the Norwegian foreign ministry in Oslo, Rune Bjastad, declined to comment.

    The Canadian embassy in Manila was not immediately available for comment, while a spokeswoman for the government in Ottawa also declined to speak on the matter.

    Philippine military spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, said he could not comment on the video until he saw it in full.

    The Philippine government has repeatedly said it has a “no-ransom policy”. But parties linked to foreigners held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf often pay to win their release.

    In October 2014, the Abu Sayyaf claimed it received P250 million in exchange for two German hostages they held captive for six months. Security analysts said a large ransom was paid.

    The group is also believed to be holding a retired Italian missionary seized in Dipolog City in October last year.



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