Two Canadians kidnapped from a resort area in the southern Philippines last month have been seen for the first time in a video posted online Monday, apparently by their captors.
Former mining executive John Ridsdel and Robert Hall appear at gunpoint in a video, delivering messages as masked militants point guns at them and their two fellow hostages.
“I’m okay but I’m in grave danger,” Hall says in the video.
“I encourage you please to contact the Canadian government and ask them, plead with them, to cooperate with the Philippines government to stop the bombings and the problems that are going on here. I know that there’s people that can find a way to do this. Please, please help us,” he said, directing the message at his friends and family.
Ridsdel is held sitting on the ground by one of the captors throughout the video, with a knife pointed at his head.
He said they “beseech” the Canadian government to end military operations against Islamist groups in the southern Islands of the archipelago.
“Please stop all of these operations so that negotiations can start about their demands,” said Ridsdel, who was a former senior vice president and chief operating officer for Calgary-based mining company TVI Pacific.
Hall’s Filipino companion Marites Flor and Kjartan Sekkingstad, the Norwegian manager of the resort where the group was kidnapped last month, are also in the video.
No one has taken responsibility for the kidnapping. But Abu Sayyaf, an al Qaeda-linked group that reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, has been one of the prime suspects all along.
Flags resembling the one used by ISIS appear behind the group of at least 11 masked and armed men seen in the video.
“Once you meet our requirements, then we can talk about negotiation,” a militant standing behind Hall and Ridsdel says before shouting “Takbir.” The group of militants surrounding him respond with a chorus of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
Abu Sayyaf has been known to attempt mass kidnappings in Mindanao — the second-largest and most southern major island in the Philippines, where the government fought for decades against an Islamist and separatist insurgency.
If Abu Sayyaf is responsible, this would be reminiscent of a 2001 attempted mass kidnapping of foreigners that also took place on Samal Island. Although no one taken hostage, two security guards at the Pearl Farm resort were killed.