The government of the Philippines confirmed Tuesday that a second Canadian national, Robert Hall, had been killed by the radical Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf. Hall was taken hostage along with three others in September 2015.
The extremist group demanded a ransom of 16.6 million Canadian dollars (about $12.9 million) for the release of three hostages, one of the four having been killed in April, and set a deadline of 3 p.m. local time Monday (3 a.m. EDT Monday). Media reports said that rumors of Hall’s death began circulating minutes past the stipulated deadline for paying the ransom.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino said in a statement issued by his communications secretary: “We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall, a Canadian national, after being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu for the past nine months.”
“It is with deep sadness and anger that I can report we have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall — held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015 — has been killed by his captors,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Canada holds the terrorist group who took Mr. Hall hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder.”
Hall was taken hostage with Filipina Marites Flor, fellow Canadian John Ridsdel and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad near Davao, according to reports. Abu Sayyaf — known for extortions, kidnappings and beheadings — first demanded a 6.3 million Canadian dollars ransom in exchange for Ridsdel but the threat was ignored and he was beheaded by the group in April.
According to the Guardian, after Ridsdel’s beheading, a video showing the three other hostages pleading for their governments to pay the militants was circulated. If the group’s demands weren’t met the three of them would be executed as well, the video said.
After Ridsdel’s death, Trudeau had condemned the killing and stated firmly that Canada would not pay ransoms to terrorists, whether directly or indirectly. He added that ransom payments funded terrorism and criminal activity, while also setting a dangerous precedent.
Local officials in Sulu reportedly said that Hall’s family tried to negotiate with the extremist group and offered to pay them 1.4 million Canadian dollars but Abu Sayyaf rejected the offer.
The condition of the other two hostages is unclear.