Three foreigners kidnapped by militants in the Philippines nearly six months ago have appealed to their governments for help to secure their release, as their Al Qaeda-linked captors issued a one month deadline for their demands to be met.
The three foreign men, who Philippine authorities have identified as two Canadians and a Norwegian, were shown in a video clip, along with a Filipino woman kidnapped with them, crouching on the ground with gunmen standing over them.
“To the Canadian prime minister and to the Canadian people in the world, please, do as needed to meet their demands, within one month or they will kill me, they will execute us,” said one of the men who identified himself as John Ridsdel, a Canadian mining consultant said.
The three men were handcuffed and were thin, bearded and shirtless. The video clip of about a minute and a half was posted on a Facebook page linked to Philippine Islamists.
The four were kidnapped from a beach resort on a southern island in September last year. They are believed to be held in the jungle on Jolo island, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which is known for bombs, beheadings and kidnappings.
Another of the men, who identified himself as Robert Hall, who is also Canadian, said he did not know how much money their captors were demanding but he appealed for help quickly.
“The Canadian government has got
to get us out of here fast,” he said.
The third man, who identified himself as Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, made a similar appeal. The Philippine women, Filipino Marites Flor, was also seen in the video, but did not speak. Authorities had said earlier she was the partner of one of the men.
The men’s embassies in Manila have declined to comment on their cases.
It was the third time the militants had released such video appeals from the captives.
In November, Ridsdel said in a video the militants were demanding 1bn pesos ($21mn) for each of them.
A militant spokesman appeared in the latest video to issue a one-month ultimatum though he did not specify demands.
“We will do something terrible against these captives,” said the masked spokesman, who gave the date as March 8.
The September raid on the resort was a reminder of the precarious security in the resource-rich southern Philippines despite a 2014 peace agreement with the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict.
Abu Sayyaf militants are holding other foreigners including one from the Netherlands, one from Japan, and an Italian missionary.
Samal Island is a prime tourism destination known for its powdery sand beaches and pristine diving spots. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the island yearly, including tens of thousands of foreigners.
Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Philippines. It has also been responsible for high-profile kidnappings for ransom involving foreign hostages.
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