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Canadian man held hostage in Philippines executed by captors, PM Trudeau says

There is "compelling reason to believe" that a second Canadian held hostage in the Philippines has been killed by his captors, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.  

Trudeau said Robert Hall was likely killed, and the Canadian government was working with authorities in the Philippines to confirm his death.

"It is with deep sadness that I have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall, held hostage in the Philippines since Sept. 21, 2015, has been killed by his captors," Trudeau said in a statement.

“Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder," Trudeau said.

In April, Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded Canadian John Ridsdel, a former mining executive, in the southern Philippine province of Sulu after a ransom demand of 300 million pesos ($6.3 million) was not paid.

Hall and Ridsdel were abducted from a marina on southern Samal Island along with a Norwegian and a Filipino, and were taken by boat to Sulu.

In the Philippines, the military said it had received intelligence reports that the Abu Sayyaf had beheaded Hall after failing to receive a ransom by a new deadline of mid-afternoon on Monday.

Troops were attempting to validate the reports, and the military would not confirm the killing in the absence of any clear evidence, regional military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan said.

"While we're not seeing any evidence, we can't conclude anything and we can't confirm or deny," Tan said by telephone.

The United States and the Philippines have both listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. The brutal group emerged in the early 1990s as an extremist offshoot of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the country's south.

Trudeau reiterated Monday that Canada would not pay any ransom. 

"The government of Canada will not and cannot pay ransoms for hostages to terrorist groups, as doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians," Trudeau said. 

"We are more committed than ever to working with the government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for these heinous acts and bring them to justice, however long it takes."

Trudeau recently urged leaders of the world's largest industrial nations -- the Group of Seven -- to reiterate their opposition to paying ransoms.

The prime minister extended his "heartfelt condolences" to Hall's family and friends on Monday.

"They have suffered a terrible loss, and this is a devastating moment for them. Our thoughts are with them as they mourn this tragedy," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.