The Abu Sayyaf has beheaded at least one of its four hostages, identified as a Canadian national, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned “without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers”, according to reports culled by NewsCentral.PH.
John Ridsdel, one of four taken by the Muslim extremist group from Samal Island in September 2015, was executed in Sulu after his family refused to pay the ransom demand, according to reports on Monday night, April 25.
Video from Heavy.com, Canadian news portal
Ridsdel was reportedly beheaded at 3:45 p.m. by the Abu Sayyaf group led by Ben Tatoh Sawadjaan, in a mountainous area at Barangay (village) Lower Sinumaan in Patikul.
Following the beheading, the bandits fled toward Talipao town, reports said.
The victim’s head was found near the main gate of the Jolo municipal hall at 8 p.m.
Aside from Ridsdel, his other companions were identified as Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian national; Robert Hall, also a Canadian; and Filipina Maritess Flor, whom reports have identified as Hall’s girlfriend.
News of the beheading came after President Benigno Aquino III ordered the military and police to exert “maximum efforts” to save the hostages.
“Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers, and this unnecessary death. This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage,” Trudeau said in a statement.
He said that the Canadian government was committed to working with the Philippine government and international partners to “pursue those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice.”
He expressed condolences to the family and friends of Ridsdel who, he said, had “endured a terrible ordeal.”
Video from CBC News Youtube account
In the meantime, Trudeau said the Canadian government’s first priority was the safety and security of its citizens, and would not comment or release any information that “may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.”
Trudeau said efforts were underway to secure the release of the second Canadian hostage.
Trudeau was in Manila in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit.
In November 2015, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded a Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then, 39. He was the first Malaysian to be beheaded by the terrorist group, according to The Star Online.
Then and a restaurant manager, Thien Nyuk Fun, were kidnapped in Sabah in May of the same year. Thien was released.
Two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf linked to the beheading have since been arrested.