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4 Hostages Appear In New Video Linked To Philippine Terrorist Group

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Matt Ferner
PHILIPPINES HOSTAGES ABU SAYYAF GROUP © YouTube PHILIPPINES HOSTAGES ABU SAYYAF GROUP

In a video posted to YouTube Monday, four people who were kidnapped last month from a resort in the southern Philippines appear to be held hostage by at least a dozen gunmen standing in front of Islamic State flags. According to the terrorism watchdog group SITE, the two-minute video was released by Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamic group operating in the region that has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State.

Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel identify themselves in the video, as does Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad. A fourth hostage, whom SITE identifies as Filipina woman Marites Flor, does not speak in the video. 

At least a dozen masked gunmen, some wearing military fatigues, surround the four hostages with weapons trained on them.

"To my family and friends, I am OK, but I'm in grave danger," Hall says. "I encourage you please to 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's people that can find a way to do this. Please, please help us."

Ridsdel confirms his identity and says the four hostages are the people taken captive in September from the Holiday Oceanview resort on Samal Island, near Davao City on the southernmost island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The group of four were reportedly abducted by 11 armed men in two motorized outriggers.

Ridsdel urges the Canadian and Philippine governments to stop all military operations in the island nation, as a blade is held inches from his head.

"Please, please meet their demands or else we'll be possibly dead," Sekkingstad, the marina resort's manager, says.

Near the end of the video, one gunman addresses the Canadian and Philippine governments, demanding the end of all military operations in the region.

"Once you meet our requirements, then we can talk about negotiation and demands," the man says. 

The abductors have remained unidentified by authorities in the region, but Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, a regional military commander, told the Associated Press in September that Abu Sayyaf operatives are the main suspects

Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and other acts of violence in the region have been attributed to Abu Sayyaf for decades in the group's fight for independence from the Republic of the Philippines. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations and by multiple governments, including those of the Philippines, Canada and the United States.

Nicolas Doire, spokesman for the Canadian department of foreign affairs, trade and development, told The WorldPost that the government is aware the group of four had been taken hostage in the Philippines. He said he would not comment or release information that could compromise "ongoing efforts" or endanger the safety of Canadians abroad.

"Canadian officials are in close contact with Filipino authorities and have been pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information," Doire said.

The Canadian government has also issued an ongoing travel advisory for the Mindanao region "due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping."

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