• Body of beheaded Canadian hostage recovered in southern PH

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The body of a Canadian hostage beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines was recovered Wednesday, as security forces intensified their operations against the jihadist group allied with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, IS, Daesh), military intelligence sources said.

    The added that residents found the body of John Ridsdel, 68, who was killed brutally on April 25, in the village of Gatas in Sulu province’s Patikul town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf.

    His head was recovered the same day he was executed and handed over to his kin who flew to Zamboanga City from Canada.

    Ridsdel, a former executive of international miner TVI Resource Development, in Zamboanga del Norte province, was beheaded in the hinterlands of Patikul after his family and the Canadian government failed to pay the P300-million ransom demanded by the Abu Sayyaf.

    The notorious group is still holding nearly two dozen foreign hostages – 14 of them Indonesian seamen kidnapped at sea in Sabah, Malaysia, and in Tawi-Tawi, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

    Ridsdel was kidnapped by 10 gunmen from the resort island of Samal in Davao del Norte province on Sept. 21, 2015 along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, 50; and a Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, and Maritess Flor, a Filipino.

    The Abu Sayyaf demanded as much as P300 million each for the safe release of the foreign hostages and set April 8 as the deadline, but extended this until April 25.

    The military’s Western Mindanao Command under General Mayoralgo dela Cruz did not give any details of the ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, another province in the autonomous region.

    However, President Benigno Aquino III ordered a massive assault on the jihadist group, which has also been blamed for the spate of terrorism there. AL JACINTO

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