The Canadian government has “reason to believe” that Canadian hostage Robert Hall has been killed by his captors in the Philippines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Monday.
Trudeau said Canadian officials were working with authorities in the Philippines to confirm Hall’s death. With three other people, he was taken captive by Abu Sayyaf militants in September 2015 from an upscale resort on Samal island, hundreds of miles east of Jolo.
Abu Sayyaf, based in the south of the mainly Catholic country, is known for kidnapping, beheading and extortion.
“The vicious and brutal actions of the hostage-takers have led to a needless death,” said Trudeau in the statement. “Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder.”
Abu Sayyaf initially demanded one billion pesos ($21.67m) each for the detainees, but it lowered the ransom to 300 million pesos each early this year.
In the statement, Trudeau reiterated a policy against paying ransom in these cases since doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians.
The militant group executed John Ridsdel, a former mining executive, in April. A Norwegian man and a Filipino woman are still held captive.
Security is precarious in the southern Philippines despite a 2014 peace pact between the government and the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict.