A recent video released by Islamist militants that depicted three foreign hostages and a Filipino woman pleading for their lives is nothing more than a ploy to relieve the military pressure that is “getting closer” to them, a Philippines army spokesman said Friday.
Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told Reuters that army units are hot on the trail of the band of Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants, who kidnapped two Canadians, a Norwegian and the woman from a beach resort in the Philippines nearly six months ago.
In the video, the three men -- all bearded and shirtless -- were videotaped while on their knees being threatened by a militant wielding a knife, the New York Times reports. The men said they would be killed in a month if their captors’ demands were not met, though no specific ransom was mentioned.
In a previous video clip that was released in November, one of the captives said the militants wanted $21 million in ransom for each hostage, Reuters reports.
"We're getting closer to them, hence, they needed to expedite the demand for ransom in order for them to escape from the hands of the law, which is closely catching up,” Padilla said.
He added that the “policy on no negotiations with kidnappers includes no payment of ransom."
The four hostages are believed to be held in a jungle on Jolo island, a stronghold of the militant group known for its bombs, beheadings and kidnappings.
Abu Sayyaf militants are also holding one person from the Netherlands, one from Japan, and an Italian missionary, Reuters reports. The group has killed at least two foreign hostages in the past, and another was killed in an army rescue mission.
Robert Hall, one of the Canadians, said in the video that Canada needs to do “what is necessary to get us out of here soon,” as his countryman John Ridsdel screamed in pain while his neck was being twisted by one of the militants, the New York Times reports.
“Try to meet their demands in 30 days or we are all dead,” said Kjartan Sekkingstad, the Norwegian.