Abu Sayyaf demands $30m ransom each for 4 hostages

A screengrab taken on Oct 13 from a YouTube video shows gunmen standing behind three foreign men and a Filipina (not pictured) who were kidnapped last month in the southern Philippines.
A screengrab taken on Oct 13 from a YouTube video shows gunmen standing behind three foreign men and a Filipina (not pictured) who were kidnapped last month in the southern Philippines.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

MANILA • A small but violent Al- Qaeda-linked Islamist group in the Philippines has demanded one billion pesos (S$29.9 million) each for three men and a woman captured at a beach resort in September, one of the victims said in a video.

The men, two Canadians and a Norwegian, and the Filipino woman were shown in a video clip posted on Twitter crouching on the ground with masked men armed with machetes standing over them and threatening to kill them.

"I appeal to the Canadian Prime Minister and the people of Canada, please pay this ransom as soon as possible or our lives are in great danger," said a bearded man who identified himself as Mr John Ridsdel, a mining consultant from Canada.

The hostages are believed to be held in the jungle on the southern island of Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, known for bomb attacks, beheadings and kidnappings.

Manila has a "no ransom" policy and will not negotiate with the militants, said police spokesman Wilben Mayor.

The army declined to comment, but one military official said the ransom demand was "incredible".

The hostages are believed to be held in the jungle on the southern island of Jolo, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, known for bomb attacks, beheadings and kidnappings.

The short video clip was posted on Twitter by the Site Intelligence Group, which tracks militant groups.

Last month, the militants released a longer video that showed the captives for the first time since they were taken, appealing to the Philippine and Canadian governments to heed rebel demands and halt an army offensive on Jolo.

Mr Ridsdel also spoke in the first video as did the two other men, who identified themselves as Mr Robert Hall and Mr Kjartan Sekkingstad. The woman did not speak. The army identified the four in September as having been taken hostage.

The Abu Sayyaf militants are holding other foreigners, including one from the Netherlands, one from Japan, two from Malaysia and an Italian missionary.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2015, with the headline 'Abu Sayyaf demands $30m ransom each for 4 hostages'. Print Edition | Subscribe