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Abu Sayyaf releases new video showing foreign hostages pleading for help

Islamist militants in the southern Philippines released a video that purports to show three hostages pleading for help and a masked militant vowing to behead them if the group's
demands are not met.

"I'm appealing to Canadian government, the Filipino government, friends, family, anybody who can possibly help us. If the demand is not met, we will be executed like our
friend John was a few days ago." the hostage who identified himself as Kjartan Sekkingstad said in the video, which the SITE Intel Group said was uploaded to YouTube
on Tuesday (May 3).

The group released 10 Indonesian hostages on Sunday, ending a month-long ordeal during which a kidnapped Canadian held by the same group was beheaded after a ransom
deadline passed.

John Ridsdel, 68, a former mining executive, was executed last week by the Abu Sayyaf, which kidnapped him and three others from a resort last year. His head was found in a bag a few hours after the deadline passed and a torso was discovered two days after.

"I'm told to tell you to meet the demand. I don't know what you're doing, but you're not doing anything for us. John has been sacrificed, his family has been decimated, and I'm
not sure why or what you're waiting for," another hostage, identified as Robert Hall, said during the video.

"I am appealing to all the people, all people hearing," Marites Flor, the Philippine woman also being held, said, before continuing to plead for help in her local language. A masked fighter then spoke. "The lesson is clear. John Ridsdel has been beheaded. Now there are three remaining captives here. If you procrastinate once again, the negotiation, we will behead this all anytime," he said.

Abu Sayyaf, a formidable and brutal militia known for amassing tens of millions of dollars from the ransom business, is now holding 13 people, among them four Malaysian seamen and Japanese, Netherlands, Canadian, Norwegian and Filipino citizens. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Ridsdel's beheading "an act of cold-blooded murder" and has urged countries not to pay ransoms.

The price for his life was 300 million pesos ($6.41 million). Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to devote all his energy to eliminating the group before he steps down in two months.
But the group's network is deeply entrenched and efforts to flush out its fighters have proved to be a big challenge for the 2,500 Philippine troops engaging them.

The lucrative business has allowed Abu Sayyaf, whose name translates as "Bearer of the Sword", to invest in high-powered boats, weapons and modern communications equipment. With poverty and joblessness rife, it is able to recruit with ease. Foreign ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are due to meet in Jakarta this week to discuss ways to work together to secure key shipping routes in the waters between the three countries.

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