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Thursday 18 January 2018

Philippine resort kidnap victims 'shown in video'

Colonel Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, watches the video purportedly showing the abductees. (AP)
Colonel Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, watches the video purportedly showing the abductees. (AP)

Suspected Muslim militants have posted a video purportedly showing two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman abducted last month from a southern Philippine resort.

Army Brigadier General Alan Arrojado said authorities are trying to verify the authenticity of the video, adding the military would reject any demands from the militants.

The video was circulated online and by the US-based Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites. It shows the hostages sitting in a grassy clearing with a dozen mostly masked gunmen standing behind them.

The three foreign hostages urged the Canadian and Philippine governments to stop military assaults, particularly artillery fire, which one captive said hit close to them. One of the hostages, who identified himself as John Ridsdel, spoke as a long-haired militant held his head and aimed a machete at him.

"We beseech the Canadian government to please, please help us and the Philippine government ... by stopping all of the operations that have been going on like artillery fire which came near us," he said.

One of the masked gunmen read a statement saying they would negotiate with the Canadian and Philippine governments and would issue their demands once the military assaults stopped.

General Arrojado, who has been leading months of offensives against Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province, a predominantly Muslim province about 590 miles south of Manila, said the assaults would not stop.

"Our mandate is to go after the enemies of the state," he told The Associated Press.

The kidnappers did not identify themselves but Philippine authorities suspect Abu Sayyaf militants are behind the abductions because they have a history of kidnappings and posting such videos. They usually seek large ransoms from governments and relatives of their hostages.

Mr Ridsdel and another Canadian, Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and a Filipino woman identified as Tess Flor, were abducted last month by gunmen from a marina on Samal Island, also in the south.

The video was the first indication of what happened to them and that they are still alive.

Following the kidnappings, Philippine authorities vowed to strengthen security in the south. But three weeks later, gunmen abducted a former Italian Catholic missionary from his pizza restaurant in southern Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Press Association

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