Islamist extremists have executed the second of three foreigners they took from a high-end resort in the strife-torn southern Philippine island group of Mindanao.
The small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group carried out its threat to behead Mr Robert Hall, 51, a Canadian, yesterday on Jolo island, Sulu province, some 1,000km south of the capital Manila, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing a spokesman named Abu Raami.
A separate military source in Jolo told The Straits Times Mr Hall had been executed. Citing raw intelligence on the ground, Major Filemon Tan, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said Mr Hall was killed at 3.15pm.
But Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military spokesman, said: "I cannot confirm or deny it. We don't have reports yet coming from our units on the ground."
The militants wanted 600 million pesos (S$17.6 million) in ransom for Mr Hall and Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad, 57.
Mr Hall, Mr Sekkingstad, another Canadian John Ridsdel and a Filipina, Ms Maritess Flor, 41, were taken on Sept 21 last yearfrom the Holiday Oceanview Samal resort on Samal island, in Davao province.
Mr Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive and journalist, was beheaded on April 25.
The Inquirer said Mr Hall, just hours before his scheduled execution, had appealed to the Philippine government "to get us all out here". "My condition is pretty bad. We have been starved, our sleep is deprived and they threaten to beat me," he told the Inquirer by phone.
In a statement, President Benigno Aquino reiterated the government's no-ransom policy.
"Our focused military and law enforcement operations continue without let-up with the objective of rescuing the hostages and holding their captors accountable for all their crimes," Mr Aquino's spokesman, Mr Herminio Coloma, said.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Mr Hall had "likely" been killed. "The vicious and brutal actions of the hostage-takers have led to a needless death. Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder," the Canadian leader said
Last week, the Abu Sayyaf freed four Malaysian sailors more than two months after they were abducted off Borneo island. Fourteen Indonesians kidnapped by the group were released last month.