Ransom ultimatum set for hostages

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COTABATO CITY: The local terror group Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) set an ultimatum for the heads of two remaining foreign hostages if the P600 million ransom is not given before June 13.

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“The (ASG under Harakatul Islamiyah faction) is giving another ultimatum to the Canadian, Norwegian and Philippine governments,” the group announced in its propaganda Telegram accounts.

The announcement included a video uploaded on YouTube, but was later removed after violating the website’s terms of service.

The footage shown Canadian Robert Hall and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad dressed in orange prisoners’ suits, and behind them were heavily armed masked men holding two black banners, including an IS flag, mimicking the IS (or ISIS) for the first time in ASG’s propaganda.

Another Filipina hostage, Maritess Flor, was not shown in the recent video and her plight was still unknown.

Hall and Sekkingstad again pleaded for help, asking their respective governments and the Philippine to pay the large ransom money to the abductors for their release.

“I appeal to my government and the Philippine government, as I have appealed before, for help,” Hall said.

The captors said one of the foreign hostages will be beheaded if demand is not delivered on or before June 13, 2016 at about 3 p.m.

“We want to let you know, the government of Canada and the Philippines, not to play games. We are determined to slaughter all the captives if you do not met our demands,” a poor Arabic speaking man said while reading scripts from his smartphone.

“We are not afraid of you, your soldiers, planes and tanks as we pledge our lives, death, wealth and our jihad to Allah. All of them are for Him,” he said.

Last month, Canadian national John Ridsdel was beheaded after the demand was not met on the extended deadline on April 25. The ultimatum was initially set on April 8. Ridsdel’s head and body were separately found days later in Jolo, Sulu. The Canadian government has condemned the “cold-blooded” beheading of its citizen Ridsdel.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said relentless military operations are still ongoing to rescue the hostages of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

“All we can say is that the operations have been going, they have not stopped, they have not ceased, we are still working to rescue all kidnap victims and pressure the kidnap for ransom groups to release them,” said Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman.

For the nth time, Padilla appealed to the public not to dignify the ASG videos that are coming out, as the AFP is doing everything to safely rescue the hostages.

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