Philippines jihadists loyal to Islamic State warn they will behead Western hostages

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From the Sunday Telegraph

Two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina held captive for seven months in the southern Philippines could be beheaded on Monday by an Islamic rebel group that operates a ruthless kidnapping and piracy enterprise.

The Abu Sayyaf faction, which pledged allegiance first to al-Qaeda and now Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), has set a deadline of 3pm for ransoms of  £4.5 million to be paid for the three Westerners.

The shocking images and looming deadline have focused fears that Islamic extremists are carving out a safe haven for terrorists to use as a base to strike targets across South East Asia.

Abu Sayyaf splinter groups have also seized 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in raids on coal tugboats in the past month, as they intensify their attacks in some of the world’s busiest waterways.

Britain and the US last week urged their citizens to treat the Sulu archipelago region as a “no-go zone” because of the “high threat” of kidnappings, piracy and terrorism-related violence.

Abu Sayyaf has its roots in the long-standing Islamist insurgency in the southern islands of the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, and has focused its operations on lucrative banditry.

The “final warning” video was released on April 15 and included the threat that beheadings would start on April 25 if the ransoms were not paid.

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