Militants kill Canadian hostage

160425161956-john-ridsdel-exlarge-169John Ridsdel, a Canadian held hostage by Islamist militants in the Philippines, “has been killed at the hands of his captors,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Monday.

“This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage,” Trudeau said, emphasizing that Canada condemns the “brutality” of this “unnecessary death.”

Ridsdel had been held hostage with three others since September of last year. Last month Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf released a video that appeared to show Ridsdel and the other captives pleading for their lives, as armed masked men stood behind them.

One of the masked men in the video had threatened to “do something terrible against these captives” if the captors’ demands — which included ransom — were not met.

On Monday, Trudeau expressed his “deepest condolences” to the family and friends of Ridsdel.
Trudeau said Canada would not comment or release any information that could compromise the other hostages’ safety or ongoing efforts to release them.

Ridsdel was among four people abducted September 21 at the Oceanview Resort on Samal Island, which lies off the coast of the major southern island of Mindanao, Philippine officials said.

This part of the southern Philippines is home to Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist militant group that’s been linked to al Qaeda. The separatist group has at times preyed on foreigners in recent years, taking them hostage to further its aims.

In addition to Ridsdel, Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad, Canadian national Robert Hall and Filipina Marites Flor were also taken hostage, according to officials.

In a statement, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said Norway would “continue our ongoing efforts to find a solution for the remaining hostages.”

A few weeks after the September abduction, video came out showing four hostages surrounded by masked, heavily armed militants and banners that appeared to be ISIS flags, or jihadist flags that are very similar in appearance to the infamous black-and-white standard.

A spokesman for the Philippine army told journalists in October that authorities had seen the video released that month, but that he couldn’t divulge operational details or shed light on the kidnappers’ identity.

“Our … posture remains, where our troops are, where our police are, they will remain to be where they are,” Col. Restituto Padilla said at the time.

Last month, the Philippine government said it would maintain its no-ransom policy and let its military handle the crisis, state media reported.

The situation has drawn growing political attention in the country. Earlier this month, one lawmaker called for Abu Sayyaf to be a topic in the country’s next presidential debate.
Sen. Ralph Recto decried what he called the group’s “kidnapping spree,” noting that there were more than a dozen foreign hostages held captive by the militants.

“The next presidential debate should include a question on how to end Abu Sayyaf’s terrorism and stop their expansion as an ISIS franchisee. … Before their hostages become a United Nations of kidnap victims, they must be stopped,” he said in a statement. (Courtesy CNN)

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