Philippines: Abu Sayyaf militants threaten to kill foreign hostages

The hostages seen in the video are believed to be two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman who were kidnapped in September.

Abu Sayyaf Islamist militants in the Philippines, who took hostage several foreigners six months ago, have threatened they will kill the captives within a month if their demands are not met.

In a video that appeared this week, armed militants are seen making the statement while several foreigners plead for their lives.

Two men are seen saying on the video that they are Canadian citizens. "I appeal for my life," one of them says.

"Please do what's needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me, and they will execute us," the hostage says.

The hostage, identified as a mining consultant from Canada, then makes a personal appeal to the prime minister.

"To the Canadian prime minister and to the Canadian people in the world, please, do as needed to meet their demands, within one month or they will kill me," says the man identified himself as John Ridsdel, Reuters reported.

The other Canadian, who identified himself as Robert Hall, says he does not know how much money the militants were demanding but appeals for help.

One of the masked militants, who holds a large knife to the neck of one of the captives, tells the foreign governments to "stop procrastinating." He says the hostages will be killed if the demands for ransom are not met by April 8.

"I'll do something terrible against these captives," he militant says.

The Canadian government has said it is aware of the videos. "The government of Canada will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadian citizens," a government statement said.

The hostages seen in the video are believed to be two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman who were kidnapped in September last year from the Oceanview Resort on Samal Island in Southern Philippines.

The region from where they were abducted is a stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist militant group that aims to create an Isis-style caliphate in the south of the Philippines.

What is Abu Sayyaf?

Abu Sayyaf translates into 'Bearer of the Sword'. It is an Islamic militant group founded in the early 1990s by a preacher who returned from the Afghan war.

Abu Sayyaf took shape as a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front MNLF).

The group was behind several bombings, hostage taking and kidnap for ransom throughout the 90s. They were behind the Manila bombings in 2005 and the bomb explosion outside the Philippine Congress in 2007 that killed a Congressman and three others.

In 2001 they kidnapped tourists from a resort and murdered three of the hostages later, including an American.

Abu Sayyaf's vision is the establishment of a pan-Islamic super-state in Southeast Asia. Their immediate goal is to set up an Islamic state in the western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalan was killed in a military action in 1998 and his brother who took over the reins of the outfit was killed in 2006.

The outfit has been linked to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah at various times.