German kidnap victim confirmed dead

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /28 Feb) — Authorities have confirmed the death of a 70-year old German national in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another  kidnap victim, German Juergen Gustav Kantner in Sulu,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a statement.

The Abu Sayyaf had earlier warned they would execute the German national by 3 p.m. on February 26 if the ransom demand of 30 million pesos is not paid.

Kantner was abducted in November 2016 with his wife Sabine Merz while cruising Philippine waters in their 53-foot yacht. Ms Merz was killed during the kidnapping, reportedly after trying to fight back with a shotgun.

The same couple were abducted by Somali pirates and held hostage for 58 days off the Gulf of Aden in 2008.

“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,” said Dureza who “was always in contact with German authorities in our efforts.”

Dureza stressed that terrorism has no place in the country “and we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head.”

He expressed his condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Kantner.

“Another precious life had been needlessly lost. There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless,” Dureza said.

In a statement Sunday, the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command said they exerted “all effort and means in order to go after the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and to rescue all kidnap victims, foreign and local.”

“The recent successes of the troops that resulted to the capture of two ASG members in Bongao, Tawi-tawi two weeks ago and the killing of 8 ASG members after an encounter in Capual, Sulu last February 7, indicate that the terrorist group have [sic] been badly reeling from these series of setbacks due to the government troops’ operations and no longer have [sic] safe established encampments for them to hide their victims,” it said.

Westmincom asked the people of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to cooperate “in order to stop the un-Islamic and barbaric activities of the Abu Sayyaf particularly on the kidnapping of innocent civilians.” (MindaNews)