Friends and family of a man with ties to Campbell River held captive in the Philipines are concerned about his safety after his fellow captive was beheaded on Monday.
Robert Hall, his Filipina companion Marites Flor and Kjartan Sekkingstad of Norway were captured Sept. 21 along with fellow Canadian John Ridsdel. Gunmen from the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf took them captive at the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort in the Philipines.
The kidnappers were demanding 300 million pesos ($6.5 million Cdn) for each of the captives and the money was to be paid by 3 p.m. Monday or the group would start killing the hostages.
The Canadian government received word on Monday afternoon that Ridsdel had been executed by beheading and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the act.
“I am outraged by the news that a Canadian citizen, John Ridsdel, held hostage in the Philippines since Sept. 21, 2015, has been killed at the hands of his captors,” the prime minister said in a statement. “Canada condemns without reservation the brutality of the hostage-takers, and this unnecessary death. This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage.”
Trudeau said the Government of Canada’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens. He added that the Government of Canada will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages.
Friends of Ridsdel’s fellow captives are walking a fine line as well.
Hall used to live in Campbell River before embarking on a sailing trip that took him to the Philippines.
He spent some time here acting in locally-produced films and developed friends here.
Local writer Diana Stevan said Hall’s family has been told not to engage in social media and she has done the same, even though she has her own blog.
But she is taking hope that, so far, no word has come down about Hall and the other hostages.
“My understanding is the less news re: Robert Hall and the two remaining captives the better,” Stevan told the Mirror. “Any news could feed into the terrorists’ hands because they want publicity and any attention they can get.
“All we can do at this point is hope and pray they are released. Also trust that the government is doing all it can.”
News reports have indicated that Philippine forces were mobilizing a rescue effort as the Monday deadline approached, then news came out that Ridsdel had been killed.