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Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

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merkelBerlin/Manila– Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel (pic) condemning the killing as “barbaric” and “abominable”.

Speaking in Berlin, Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor believes the murder showed how unscrupulous and inhumane the terrorists involved were.

“We must all stand together and fight against them,” the spokesman says.

Earlier a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Berlin confirmed the murder of the 70-year-old yachtsman.

“There is no longer any reasonable doubt that the German national abducted in the Philippines is dead,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

“We are deeply shocked by the perpetrators’ inhumane and cruel act,” the spokesman said.

The man was taken captive on his yacht off the southern Philippines three months ago after the militants shot dead his 59-year-old wife as she fought back. Her body was left in the boat.

In a one-minute-34–second video released by the Abu Sayyaf, the captive wore sandals, grey pants and a black T-shirt and slumped on a grassy lot while a man held a sickle to his neck.

“Now he’ll kill me,” the German man said.

His captors shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic) after the beheading, which was carried out on Sunday after a ransom demand deadline had passed.

The Abu Sayyaf group demanded 30 million pesos (600,000 dollars) be paid by Sunday afternoon or they would behead the captive.

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” Philippine presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said in a statement following the release of the video on various websites and chat groups.

“Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the armed forces of the Philippines, exhausted all efforts to save his life,” he added. “We all tried our best. But to no avail.”

Dureza called on the public to support the government’s fight against terrorism.

“Terrorism has no place in a country like ours and we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head,” he said. “There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless.”

The Philippine military vowed to hunt down the killers.

“It’s a mournful day for all peace-loving and God-fearing citizens of the Philippines,” said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a spokesman for the armed forces.

“We commit to relentlessly pursue the ongoing all-out offensives to neutralize the perpetrators of this dastardly crime,” he added.

Arevalo said troops were making every effort to find the body of the German man, “to be handed to his bereaved family and to afford him the decent burial he deserves.”

Last year, Abu Sayyaf beheaded two Canadian nationals whose ransom demands were not paid. The Canadians were abducted in September 2015 with a Norwegian man and a Filipino woman, who were later both freed separately.

It is unclear whether Norway made a ransom payment for the Norwegian hostage’s release.

The Philippine government has a no-ransom policy and discourages payments by other parties, but has not been able to stop such pay-offs in past instances.

Abu Sayyaf militants are believed to be holding captive more than 20 other hostages in the southern Philippines.

Aside from undertaking kidnappings for ransom, the Abu Sayyaf group has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the military to crush the militant group and warned that it could be a source of recruitment for the Islamic State extremist militia.

– dpa

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