SUSPECTED Muslim militants have posted a video purportedly showing for the first time two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino who were abducted from a southern Philippine resort last month, and demanded that government forces stop their artillery attacks.
Army Brigadier General Alan Arrojado said that the military would reject any demands from the militants. Two government counter-terrorism experts who examined the video separately concluded that hostages shown in it were the three foreign men and a Filipino woman seized from a marina on the island of Samal. They said the military and police were assessing details in the video to try to identify the kidnappers and determine their location.
The video was circulated online and by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites. It shows the hostages sitting in a grassy clearing with a dozen mostly masked gunmen standing behind them. Two black flags hang in the backdrop of lush foliage.
The three foreign hostages, speaking at gunpoint, urged the Canadian and Philippine governments to stop the military assaults, particularly artillery fire, which one captive said had hit close to them. One of the hostages, who identified himself as John Ridsdel, spoke as a long-haired militant held his head and pointed a machete at him. Ridsdel said: “We beseech the Canadian government to please, please help us and the Philippine government by stopping all of the operations that have been going on, like artillery fire which came near us.”
One of the masked gunmen read a statement saying they would negotiate with the Canadian and Philippine governments and would issue their demands once the military assaults stopped. The gunmen then erupted in yells of “Allahu akbar”, or God is great.
Brig-gen Arrojado, who has been leading months of offensives against Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu, a mainly Muslim province about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila, said the assaults would not stop.
“Our mandate is to go after the enemies of the state,” he said by phone. The kidnappers did not identify themselves, but Philippine authorities suspect Abu Sayyaf militants are behind the abductions because they have a history of kidnappings and such video postings.