Canada outraged by beheading
Canada outraged by beheading
(Associated Press) - April 26, 2016 - 10:00am

TORONTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the “cold-blooded murder” of a Canadian by terrorists in the Philippines who were holding him hostage.

Trudeau confirmed Monday that the victim was John Ridsdel (not a Norwegian as earlier reported) of Calgary, Alberta. Ridsdel was 68 years old.

Ridsdel was kidnapped together with fellow Canadian tourist Robert Hall, Norwegian hotel manager Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor on Sept. 21 by Abu Sayyaf militants from a marina on Samal Island in Davao del Norte.

Two men on a motorcycle left Ridsdel’s head, placed inside a plastic bag, along a street in Jolo, Sulu and then fled, Jolo police chief Supt. Junpikar Sitin said.

The militants had threatened to kill one of the three male hostages if  ransom – reportedly P300 million for each foreigner – was not paid by 3 p.m. Monday.

Trudeau said his government would work with the Philippine government and international partners to pursue those responsible for this “heinous act.”

Jolo Mayor Hussein Amin condemned the beheading, blaming Abu Sayyaf militants who have been implicated in past kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.

“This is such a barbaric act by these people and one would be tempted to think that they should also meet the same fate,” Amin said by telephone.

Philippine forces were moving to rescue the hostages, also including a Filipino woman who was kidnapped with them, as the Abu Sayyaf’s deadline for the ransom payment lapsed, the military said.

The militants reportedly demanded P300 million ($6.5 million) for each of the foreigners, a reduction from their earlier demand of P1 billion each.

The hostages were believed to have been taken to Jolo island in Sulu, a jungled province where the militants are thought to be holding a number of captives, including 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian crewmen who were abducted at gunpoint from three tugboats last month.

“Maximum efforts are being exerted … to effect the rescue,” the military and police said in a joint statement, without divulging details of the rescue operation, which was ordered by President Aquino.

About 400 Abu Sayyaf militants were involved in the kidnappings, it said.

In videos posted online, Ridsdel and fellow Canadian Hall, Norwegian Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were shown sitting in a clearing with heavily armed militants standing behind them. In some of the videos, a militant positioned a long knife on Ridsdel’s neck. Two black flags hung in the backdrop of lush foliage.

The abductions highlight the long-running security problems hounding the southern Philippines, a region with bountiful resources that also suffers from poverty, lawlessness and decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies.

The Abu Sayyaf began a series of large-scale abductions after it emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of a separatist rebellion by minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation’s south.

It has been weakened by more than a decade of Philippine offensives but has endured largely as a result of large ransom and extortion earnings. The United States and the Philippines have both listed the group as a terrorist organization.

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