Militants 'behead' German hostage in southern Philippines

Authorities scramble to verify reports Juergen Gustav Kantner was killed after ransom deadline expired
Militants 'behead' German hostage in southern Philippines

German hostage Juergen Gustav Kantner holds a flag while saying 'This is my last hour' in a photo tweeted on Dec. 29, 2016 by user @TerrorEvents.


Published Feb. 27, 2017 

Islamist militants in the southern Philippines reportedly beheaded a German national on Feb. 26 after his family failed to pay a 30-million peso (about US$597,000) ransom.

Authorities were trying to verify the reports.

"Despite efforts exerted by groups and the security forces, I have received reports about the alleged beheading of a German kidnap victim in Sulu [on] Sunday afternoon," Jesus Dureza, President Rodrigo Duterte's peace adviser and chief hostage negotiator said.

Colonel Edgard Arevalo, head of the military's public affairs office, said they received reports that Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded Juergen Gustav Kantner, 70, after negotiations for his release collapsed.

"We are currently validating it," said the military official.

"Until sufficient proof is obtained ... our assumption remains that the subject kidnapped victim is alive and well," said Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, military spokesman.

Kantner, a sailing enthusiast, was abducted while he and his wife, Sabine Merz, were cruising Philippine waters in November 2016. Merz was killed when she apparently tried to fight back with a shotgun.

Catholic bishops in the southern region of Mindanao condemned the reported beheading.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel described the incident as "inhuman."

"When does God's justice fall upon them so that they may see the light," said Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamis. "Are they really believers of one God or money is the one they adore?" added the prelate.

He said the incident is a  "sad moment" for people in Mindanao. "We pray for the soul of the victim of the latest beheading," said Archbishop Jumoad.

The prelate said he hopes the Philippine Armed Forces will go after the Abu Sayyaf, which is known for various atrocities in the region, including bombings, abductions, and beheadings of hostages.

Canadian nationals John Ridstel and Robert Hall, who were taken hostage 2015, were beheaded last year. Their severed heads were found in Jolo town, capital of Sulu province.

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