PHILIPPINES security forces said it had received reports that Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf beheaded kidnap victim Jeurgen Kantner on Sunday evening, according to local media.
At press time, Chief of the Western Mindanao Command, Major General Carlito Galvez Jr., said the military was confirming the reports of Kantner’s execution.
“But we need body of proof,” he said, as quoted by The Inquirer.
Earlier, Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza had pleaded the Abu Sayyaf to spare Kantner’s life.
“I am appealing to them to please spare the life of innocent and helpless Kantner,” Dureza said.
In Sunday Sunday Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami reportedly beheaded Kantner in Sitio Talibang, Sulu.
— P.M.O.I (@Mojahedineng) November 7, 2016
The militant group had demanded PHP30 million (US$600,000) to release Kanther. It set a 3 p.m. deadline before Kantner would be beheaded.
Kantner was kidnapped in Malaysian waters on Nov 5 last year. He was sailing in the area with his girlfriend Sabine Merz when their boat was boarded by the militants. Merz died in a standoff with the bandits.
The German couple were former hostages in Somalia in 2008.
The 70-year-old Kantner and Merz’s were abducted for a second time nearly a decade after the couple was held for 52 days in Somalia.
However, the woman did not survive the latest abduction as her naked body discovered on the abandoned 30-foot yacht. It was not clear why Merz was killed but it is possible she may have fought back or tried to escape.
The Associated Press quoted military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla as saying that the military was continuing operations to rescue foreign and local hostages, including Kantner, who is believed to be held by Abu Sayyaf in the southern Sulu province.
“Deadline or no deadline, troops are exerting all effort and means in order to go after the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and to rescue all kidnap victims,” the military command in charge of the Sulu region said in a statement, as quoted by the AP.
“The armed forces will pursue the enemy and dictate the terms, not the other way around,” Padilla said. “We will not be cowed by the demands of evil individuals and groups who continue to perpetuate practices contrary to Islam.”