Philippines kidnap victims appeal for release

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The Philippine government said Wednesday it was trying to rescue three foreigners and a Filipina kidnapped from a southern island resort, after the captives appealed for help in a video posted online.

“The government’s aim is to ensure their safety and secure their release and all actions emanate from this,” presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said Wednesday in response to the video.

Canadians John Ridsdel, 68 and Robert Hall, 50, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, and Hall’s girlfriend Marites Flor were taken at gunpoint from a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte on September 21.

The video showed them sitting on the ground with 12 armed men standing over them.

“To my family and friends, I’m okay but I’m in grave danger,” Hall said.

Ridsdel asked the Canadian government to “please, please help us.” He also urged the Philippine government to stop all military operations around the kidnappers’ base.

One of the gunmen, with a scarf and sunglasses covering his face, said in English that negotiations over their demands could start once authorities “have met the requirements.”

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said two small groups within the Abu Sayyaf Islamist group were responsible for the kidnapping. The military and police have not officially confirmed that version.

Abu Sayyaf has a long history of kidnapping foreigners and local people for ransom.

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