DAVAO CITY – Abu Sayyaf rebels holding 2 Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman have demanded a halt in all military operation against them to allow negotiations for the safe release of their hostages in southern Philippines.
The four – Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel; Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Maritess Flor – were kidnapped September 21 from the upscale Holiday Oceanview marina on Samal Island off Davao del Norte province and believed to have been brought to Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. But authorities have not confirmed the presence of the hostages in the province.
The foreigners – in a video uploaded on Facebook – have appealed to the Canadian government and the Philippines to stop the military assault.
Hall, with the terrified Filipina by her side, said: “My name is Robert Hall, to my family and friends I am okay but I am in grave danger I encourage you to please contact the Canadian government and ask them, plead with them to cooperate with the Philippine government to stop the bombings, and the problems that are going on here, I know there are people who can find a way to do this, please, please help us.”
Sekkinstad, the marina’s manager, spoke briefly and appealed to the resort owner to help them.
“I am Sekkinstad, to the owner of the owner of Oceanview Marina, please, please meet their demands or else we’ll be possibly dead.”
Ridsdel, a former executive and now consultant to the mining firm TVI Resources Development, Inc. in southern Philippines, in his appeal, has virtually gave away their position, saying, military artillery fires were near them.
A guard, armed with a huge bolo, held Ridsdel by the head as he spoke, and at one point his voice trembled and he appeared terrified just like the other hostages who were surrounded with over a dozen masked gunmen.
“My name is John Ridsdel, I can confirm that we were taken captive from the Oceanview Marina from the Samal Island in Davao, I’d like to add and give the message from all of us, we beseech, we urge, we beseech the Canadian government to please, please help us and the Philippine government, the Canadian government to help us by stopping all of the operations that have been going like artillery fire that came near us and there have been flights overhead, and bombs and military operations, please stop all of these operation so that negotiations can start about their demands.”
The Filipina did not speak, but her moaning and a cell phone ringing can be heard on the background during the entire video that lasted a little over 2 minutes.
One gunman, who appeared to be the leader or spokesman of the gang, demanded that military to stop the attacks on Abu Sayyaf positions and wanted cooperation from both the Philippines and Canadian government.
“I deliver a message to the Canadian government and to the Philippine government, I want your cooperation with us and to meet all the requirements – number one that there must be no military operation and there must be no artillery attack and all of these that are harmful against us, once you meet our requirements then we can talk about negotiations and demands,” said the masked gunman, who spoke in good, but accented English, and behind him were black flags similar to those use by ISIS.
The video was also posted by the Daily Mail and can be accessed on this URL http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3270929/We-grave-danger-help-Canadian-hostages-plead-lives-Filipino-Isis-style-video.html.
The Philippine military did not give any statement about the Abu Sayyaf demands, but it could – just like in the past – stop the operations to allow peaceful negotiations.
In October last year, the Abu Sayyaf released two German yachters – Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, – after receiving P250 million ransom delivered to Sulu by a private plane under tight military guard.
The Germans were intercepted at sea by the Abu Sayyaf on April 25 while heading to Sabah in Malaysia from a holiday in the Philippines.
Aboo Rami, an Abu Sayyaf spokesman, has told a radio station in Zamboanga City that ransom was paid for the safe release of the Germans and even posted a photo of the stacks of money on Tweeter.
The Abu Sayyaf previously demanded Germany to cease all support to US coalition campaign against ISIS in Syria which is fighting for Islamic caliphate. It was unknown whether the same group is also holding the four hostages. (Mindanao Examiner)
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