Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende condemned the “liquidation” of Canadian hostage Robert Hall in the Philippines on Monday. Hall was being held along with three other hostages including his Filipina partner, another Canadian who was killed earlier and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all but confirmed the death, saying he had “reason to believe” Hall, age 50, had been killed by his captors. CBC News in Canada had also reported the death, citing sources on the Philippine island of Jolo and Philippine security sources.
Brende claimed Norwegian officials, who’d been working closely with their Canadian counterparts, would “continue the efforts to find a solution for the remaining hostages.” They now include just Sekkingstad, from Sotra on the west coast of Norway, and Marites Flor, Hall’s partner.
Hall’s 68-year-old fellow Canadian John Ridsdel was found dead on the island of Jolo on April 25, after a deadline for paying ransom had run out. Sekkingstad told a local newspaper, which had been allowed to interview the hostages, that Ridsdel had been beheaded.
All four hostages were kidnapped from a yacht club in the southern Philippines on September 22. The Islamic terror group Abu Sayyaf later claimed responsibility and has demanded ransom amounting to around NOK 100 million for each of the hostages.
Neither the Norwegian nor the Canadian government will pay ransom as a matter of principle, and their families are unable to pay such large sums. All the hostages have issued videos, likely at the prodding of Abu Sayyaf, where they have pleaded for their lives. Flor also issued an appeal through the local Inquirer newspaper to the Philippiines’ newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte, saying she was the only one who could understand what their captors were saying “and I hear that they plan to behead us.”
Norway’s embassy in Manila won’t comment further on the situation. Sekkingstad reportedly was allowed to call his brother in Norway Sunday night. Sekkingstad had lived abroad for at least 15 years and was manager of the Oceanview Resort and Yacht Club on the island of Samal when he was seized along with the three others last fall.