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VIDEO-Abu Sayyaf hostages in Philippines make video plea

Filipino soldiers in a military tank transit at a road on the outskirts of Jolo, Sulu Island, southern Philippines, 27 April 2016. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to "neutralize" Abu Sayyaf terrorists after the beheading of a Canadian hostage, who was kidnapped from a resort in the southern Philippines along with three others in September.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionAfter the killing of Canadian John Ridsdel the Philippine military launched an offensive against Abu Sayyaf

Three hostages being held by militants in the Philippines have appeared in a video pleading for their governments to meet the captors’ demands.

The Canadian, Norwegian and Filipino men are being held by Abu Sayyaf, the Islamist militant separatists who last week beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel.

In the video, the hostages say if the demands are not met “we will be executed like our friend John”.

Abu Sayyaf has previously demanded a multi-million dollar ransom.

The Philippines and Canadian government have said they will not give in to ransom demands. The Philippines has also launched a military operation against the militant group.


John RidsdelImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Ridsdel was killed after no ransom was paid for his release

Mr Ridsdel was kidnapped from a marina near the city of Davao last September along with another Canadian, Robert Hall, his Filipina partner Marites Flor, and Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian.

They were taken to an Abu Sayyaf stronghold of the remote island of Jolo where Mr Ridsdel was killed on 25 April after a ransom deadline passed.

Abu Sayyaf: Analysis by Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

Founded in 1991, the Islamist terrorist and separatist group Abu Sayyaf is believed to have only a few hundred armed followers but it has managed to survive numerous assaults by the Philippine army, aided by US military trainers.

Since 2014, when its commanders started swearing allegiance to so-called Islamic State, Abu Sayyaf has intensified its drive to kidnap hostages for multi-million dollar ransoms, mimicking the practices of Islamist terror groups in the Middle East by issuing hostage plea videos with threats of beheading.

In the past, one of the most successful, if controversial, hostage mediations was carried out in 2000 by the late Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, when he bought the freedom of six western hostages for a reported million dollars a head.

The large sums of money involved both then and since have led to accusations that Abu Sayyaf are really more interested in money than religion but their link to IS, however tenuous, appears to have only increased their fanaticism.

The new video, reported on Tuesday by the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadist media, showed the three hostages with six gunmen standing behind them.

A masked militant warns Canada and the Philippines that the three remaining hostages would be killed “if you procrastinate once again”.

Mr Hall is shown saying the governments were being ordered to “meet the demand” of the kidnappers, without giving further details.

He also asked the Philippines government to “stop shooting at us and trying to kill us. These guys are going to do a good job of that.”

Mr Sekkingstad says that “if the demand is not met we will be executed like our friend John was a few days ago”.

Indonesian sailors released by Abu Sayyaf rest at a local official's house in Jolo, Philippines (2 May 2016)Image copyrightReuters
Image captionAbu Sayyaf released a group of 10 Indonesian sailors at the weekend
Indonesian sailors released by Abu Sayyaf get off a plane in Jakarta after being released (1 May 2016)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe group were flown to Jakarta, apparently after a ransom was paid

Ms Flor is seen pleading with several Philippines officials and candidates in the upcoming national election, saying “we want to be freed alive”, the AFP news agency reports.

Abu Sayyaf is a fragmented but violent militant group with its roots in the Islamist separatist insurgency in the southern Philippines. Several of its factions have aligned themselves with the so-called Islamic State.

It has repeatedly taken hostages over the years but has often released them in exchange for ransoms.

On Sunday, the group released 10 Indonesian sailors they had been holding for five weeks.

It is still holding several captives, including a group of eight Malaysians and Indonesians seized from boats and a Dutch birdwatcher taken in 2012.

Map showing Jolo and Davao

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