MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Intensified military operations in Sulu failed to stop notorious local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf from killing its German hostage as the deadline it set for ransom lapsed.
The German embassy in the Philippines confirmed it was Juergen Kantner in the beheading video that circulated on Monday, February 27, according to chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza.
“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim, German Juergen Gustav Kantner, in Sulu Sunday afternoon,” Dureza said in a statement on Monday.
“Terrorism has no place in a country like ours and we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head,” he also said.
Kantner appeared in a video two weeks ago to announce the February 26 deadline that the bandits set for his beheading if ransom of P30 million ($600,000) was not paid.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will continue efforts to stop atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf, the group that the military aims to crush by June 2017.
Dureza said the Philippine government had been in close contact with German authorities as state forces tried to rescue the hostages.
“Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best. But to no avail,” he said.
Dureza confirmed as early as Sunday night, February 26, that he received a report from Joint Task Force Sulu commander Colonel Cirilito Sobejana about Kantner’s beheading, but the military refused to confirm until they have retrieved his body.
Military operations against the Abu Sayyaf continue to rescue its remaining hostages.
Kantner is the 3rd foreigner to be beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in the last 10 months. The bandits beheaded two Canadian hostages in 2016 also after ransom payment deadlines lapsed.
The subgroup led by Muammar Askali or Abu Rami was reportedly behind the beheading, the same group that was also behind the kidnapping of a German couple in 2014. The couple was released after P250 million in ransom was reportedly paid.
The military on November 7 last year reported finding Kantner’s yacht, Rockall, adrift off the southern Philippines.
The body of a woman with a bullet wound, later identified by the hostage as his partner, Sabine Merz, was found on board the vessel.
Upon Duterte’s orders, the military has shifted its focus back to its counter-terrorism campaign.
The Abu Sayyaf is a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang that has pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).
It is made up of several small armed bands based in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo, where it is also holding a Dutch and foreign crew members of several other vessels.
It is blamed for the Philippines’ deadliest bombing attacks as well as dozens of kidnappings-for-ransom.