Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Philippines condemns Abu Sayyaf killing of Canadian Robert Hall

The Philippine president has condemned the "brutal and senseless murder" of a Canadian man by Abu Sayyaf militants.                    




Robert Hall was kidnapped by the Islamist group in September along with three others from Canada, the Philippines and Norway.
Fellow Canadian John Ridsdel was killed by the group in April after a multi-million dollar ransom deadline expired.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier said he believed it was "likely" Mr Hall was dead.
In a statement on Tuesday, outgoing Philippines President Benigno Aquino confirmed the killing.
"This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government's resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry," he said.
Who are the Abu Sayyaf group?
Mr Hall, his Filipina partner Marites Flor, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Canadian John Ridsdel were kidnapped from a marina near the city of Davao in September.

                                                             

They were taken to an Abu Sayyaf stronghold on the remote southern island of Jolo. Mr Ridsdel was beheaded on 25 April.
Last month, a video emerged showing the three hostages pleading for their governments to meet the captors' demands or they would also be executed.
The Philippine and Canadian governments are opposed to paying ransoms for hostages.
The Philippines have launched military operations against the militant group.
Mr Trudeau said in a statement. that Canada "will not give into their fear mongering tactics and despicable attitude toward the suffering of others".
Abu Sayyaf is still holding several captives, including a Dutch birdwatcher taken in 2012.
What is Abu Sayyaf?

                                                             

One of smallest but most radical of Islamist separatist groups in southern Philippines, its name means "bearer of the sword" in Arabic.
It split from the larger Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. Membership is said to number in the low hundreds.
What does it want?
The group has been agitating for the creation of an independent Islamic state in predominantly Catholic Philippines, and uses tactics such as hostage-taking and bombings to pressure the government.
Several of its factions have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.
How dangerous is it?
Numerous Filipino and foreign civilians have been kidnapped in south Philippines and parts of neighbouring Malaysia over the decades, and used as hostages to extract ransoms.
Though some have been released after negotiations or attacks by Philippine forces, others have been murdered when demands were not met.
Abu Sayyaf has also said it carried out bombings in cities in the south and a ferry bombing in 2004 in Manila Bay that killed more than 100 people, considered one of the worst terror attacks in the Philippines.