Philippine militants holding foreigners hostage set 1 month deadline for ransom to be paid

Canadian John Ridsdell, 68, pleading for his life as a militant holds a jungle knife to his neck in the latest video released by the brutal Abu Sayyaf group demanding that the Canadian government pay ransom for Mr Ridsdell and three other hostages ta
Canadian John Ridsdell, 68, pleading for his life as a militant holds a jungle knife to his neck in the latest video released by the brutal Abu Sayyaf group demanding that the Canadian government pay ransom for Mr Ridsdell and three other hostages taken from an upscale resort in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in September last year. PHOTO: SCREENGRABS FROM ABU SAYYAF FACEBOOK VIDEO

MANILA (AFP/REUTERS) - Islamic militants holding two Canadians and a Norwegian in the southern Philippine jungles have set a one-month deadline for millions of dollars in ransom to be paid, according to a video released on Thursday (March 10).

In the video posted on a local militant group's Facebook page, the emaciated victims said they would be killed if the ransom was not paid.

The three foreign men, whom the Philippine authorities have identified as two Canadians and a Norwegian, were shown in a video clip, along with a Filipina 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 Mr 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.

Canadian tourists Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were seized from yachts at a marina in the southern Philippines in September.

While the ransom amount was not specified, the militants in an earlier video demanded 1 billion pesos (S$29.6 million) for each of the three foreigners, without mentioning the conditions for Ms Flor's release.

Mr Hall identified their captors as members of the Abu Sayyaf, a local group notorious for bombings and kidnappings that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

He said they were being held on Sulu, a remote island in the country's south-western tip that is a known Abu Sayyaf hideout.

A spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry in Oslo, Mr Rune Bjastad, declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The Canadian embassy in Manila was not immediately available for comment, while a spokeswoman for the government in Ottawa declined to speak on the matter.

A Philippine military spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, told AFP he could not comment on the video until he saw it in full.

The Philippine government has repeatedly said it has a "no-ransom policy". But parties linked to foreigners held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf often pay to win their release.

In October 2014, the Abu Sayyaf claimed it received 250 million pesos in exchange for two German hostages they held captive for six months. Security analysts said a large ransom was paid.

The group is also believed to be holding a retired Italian missionary whom they seized from his pizzeria in the southern port city of Dipolog in October.

The Abu Sayyaf killed a Malaysian hostage last year, according to authorities.