Duterte aide confirms Abu Sayyaf beheading of German hostage

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2017 07:19 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2017 09:29 AM

Jurgen Gustav Kantner. . Agence France-Presse

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Members of a terrorist group in the Philippines have beheaded the German hostage they were holding for ransom, the government in Manila said Monday.

A video posted by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which was monitored by intelligence group SITE, showed Jurgen Kantner being killed by a knife-wielding man.

Shortly after the video appeared, government envoy Jesus Dureza confirmed the German's death.

"We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim," Dureza said in a statement.

"Up to the last moment, many sectors including the Armed Forces of the Philippines exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best. But to no avail," said Dureza.

In confirming the death of the German national, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) revealed that they also have lost several of their men while conducting retrieval operations for Kantner and other victims.

"Our operations in the past several days and nights using all our resources were unrelenting. We lost some of our best men in the process, because we value the life of Mr. Kantner and that of the others who have fallen prey to this terrorist group," the AFP said in a statement.

The AFP condemned the incident and promised to continue its ongoing operations to rescue other kidnap victims.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, previously demanded a ransom of P30 million ($600,000) be paid by Sunday to spare the 70-year-old.

Kanter was abducted from his yacht, the Rockall, in waters off the southern Philippines last year.

The vessel was found drifting on November 7, with the body of Kantner's female companion, Sabine Merz, bearing a gunshot wound.

The couple had previously been kidnapped and held for 52 days in Somalia in 2008 before they were freed, reportedly after a huge ransom was paid, press reports said.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement in the Middle East, have been kidnapping foreigners and Christians for decades, holding them for ransom in the jungles of the strife-torn southern Philippines.

They have frequently killed hostages if their demands are not met, and last year murdered two Canadians.

Aside from Kanter, they are now holding at least 19 foreigners and seven Filipino hostages, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The group, formed from seed money provided by a relative of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, also carried out the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that claimed 116 lives in the country's deadliest terror attack.

The military had been pressing an assault against the Abu Sayyaf, attacking their camps and bombing their hideouts just before Kantner was killed. - with Agence France-Presse