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Body of beheaded Canadian hostage found, say officials in Philippines

Philippine troops on Saturday dug up what they believe is the body of the Canadian hostage Robert Hall, who was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf extremists more than two weeks ago after a ransom deadline lapsed.
Canadian hostage Robert Hall killed by militants, Philippines confirms Read moreVillagers led the troops to a hinterland near Kamuntayan village in Sulu province’s Talipao town, where the militants buried Hall’s body after killing him on 13 June. Hall’s head was found outside a Roman Catholic cathedral, the regional military spokesman Maj Filemon Tan said.
Tan said chances were high that the body recovered on Saturday was Hall’s, citing intelligence reports and help from villagers. Police forensic experts would confirm the identity, he said.
Hall was kidnapped with another Canadian, John Ridsdel, Norwegian Kjartan Sikkengstad and Filipino Marites Flor in September last year in a yacht-berthing resort on Samal Island, also in the south, and taken by boat to Sulu, a predominantly Muslim and impoverished province 590 miles south of Manila.
Ridsdel was also beheaded, Sikkengstad remains in Abu Sayyaf custody and Flor has been freed.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, condemned the killings and called on other nations not to pay ransoms if their citizens were abducted, to discourage the militants from carrying out more ransom kidnappings.
Philippine troops have been carrying out an offensive that has killed dozens of militants in Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has more than 400 armed fighters, is blacklisted by the US and the Philippines as a terrorist group for bombings, kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and extortion. The militants have been weakened by years of battle setbacks but remain a national security threat.

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