Philippines rejects Abu Sayyaf ransom despite threat to kill hostages

MANILA (DPA) - The Philippine government on Friday (Feb 22) stressed it would not give in to demands from Islamic State-allied militants for a ransom to free Malaysian and Indonesian hostages despite a threat to kill the captives.

"We are doing our best to secure the release of the hostages (one Malaysian and two Indonesians) from the evil hands of the Abu Sayyaf group but we stand firm on our no-ransom policy," said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

"To give in to the demands of terrorists and other lawless groups would embolden them to engage in more abductions that would allow them to conduct extremist and other criminal activities as they could buy more arms and weapons," he added.

According to reports from Malaysia, a video recently surfaced showing the foreign hostages appealing to their government to secure their freedom while their captors held a knife to their necks.

The hostages were blindfolded and kneeling as they made the appeal, the reports said. The Abu Sayyaf was reportedly demanding more than 700,000 dollars for the hostages on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

Panelo said government forces were continuing to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines as well as high-profile kidnapping for ransom cases.

The three hostages were kidnapped on Dec 5 from a fishing trawler off the Philippines' southern-most province of Taw-Tawi.

The Abu Sayyaf has in the past beheaded foreign hostages after ransoms were not paid. One of those beheaded was a 70-year-old German man held for three months by the militants in 2017.

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