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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Abu Sayyaf threatens to kill 3 Western and 1 Filipina hostage

MANILA (EFE).- Islamist rebel group Abu Sayyaf, in a video on Facebook, threatened to kill four hostages - three Western and one Filipina - in a month if an unspecified ransom amount is not paid to them.

In the video, the hostages - two Canadians, one Norwegian and a Filipina - who were kidnapped last September from a hotel complex in Samal Island in southeastern Philippines, appear on their knees before a group of heavily armed men.

"I am a Canadian citizen being held by the Abu Sayyaf Group for ransom, the amount is, I do not know what it is. But the Canadian government has got to get us out of here fast," said a hostage identified as Robert Hall in the video, the authenticity of which is yet to be confirmed by the authorities.

"Follow the negotiation, try to meet their demands within 30 days or we are all dead," said the Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, adding it was their last message before execution.

One of the insurgent group's members said the video was recorded last Tuesday, on March 8, and the families of the hostages and the authorities had until April 8 to pay the ransom amount.

The hostages are John Ridsdel and Robert Hall (Canadians), Kjartan Sekkingsta and Filipina Marites Flor who is Hall's partner.

Although the rebels did not specify a ransom amount in the video, last November they had asked for $63 million for the three Westerners, without mentioning the amount required to free the Filipina.

Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, with 400 armed men, was formed in 1991 by a group of former fighters of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union.

Since then, the group has conducted the bloodiest attacks and numerous kidnappings in the Philippines.

Islamic separatist conflict in southern Philippines, over the last four decades, has left between 100,000 and 150,000 dead and paralyzed the development of a region rich in mineral resources.

Although the government has signed a peace agreement with the main rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, other groups, including Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, remain active in the region. (11 March 2016)

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