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Canadian Robert Hall’s body found in Sulu

/ 02:27 PM July 02, 2016
Robert Hall, John Ridsdel

This file image made from undated militant video, shows Canadians Robert Hall, left, and John Ridsdel, right. With a black Islamic State group-style flag as a backdrop, Abu Sayyaf fighters beheaded Canadian hostage Hall on southern Jolo island on Monday, June 13, 2016, after a ransom deadline passed. Enraged by the beheading of a second Canadian hostage by ransom-seeking Abu Sayyaf extremists, Philippine troops pressed a major offensive in the south Tuesday, June 14, 2016, but there was no sign of an end to the small but brutal insurgency that a new president will inherit in about two weeks. Militant Video via AP FILE VIDEO

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The body of Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim, Canadian Robert Hall, had been found in Sulu on Saturday morning, almost three weeks after he was beheaded, the military said.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., the spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command, said Hall’s decaying body was dug up in Barangay (village) Upper Kamuntayan in Talipao town around 11:35 a.m.

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READ: PNP confirms head recovered in Sulu is that of Robert Hall

The body was found by troops under the Joint Task Group Sulu following information provided by locals, he said.

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“The body has been brought to the JTG Sulu Headquarters in Barangay Busbus in Jolo, Sulu for documentation before turn over to the PNP SOCO,” Tan said.

Hall was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf on June 13 after the bandit group failed to receive the ransom money it had demanded. His head was found on the same day in front of the Jolo Cathedral.

Hall was the second Samal island kidnap victim the bandits had decapitated after fellow Canadian John Ridsdel, who was killed in April. Filipino Marites Flor had been freed on June 24. Only Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad remained of the Samal Island kidnap victims.

READ: Flor freed as Duterte vows to get Abus

The military said efforts to rescue Sekkingstad and other kidnap victims such as European birdwatcher Ewold Horn were continuing.

Focused military operations in Sulu were being undertaken to also “neutralize” the Abu Sayyaf, the military said.

At last 10 battalions or 5,000 government troops had been deployed in the island-province and all military resources “from land, sea and air” have been made available for Sulu operations, according to Tan.

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He said troops from all the service commands like the Philippine Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy, and the different support commands like the Scout Rangers and Special Force are now operating in Sulu although the operation was not “wide-scale.”

“We focus on areas known to be supportive of the Abu Sayyaf Group. We will go to the communities known to provide refuge to bandits,” he said last month.

“There are selected target areas. These bandits have relatives and they hide in the populace,” Tan added.

He refused to give the exact number of soldiers or the units deployed in Sulu. He also would not say where the operations will be.

“Just imagine our operation maps are filled with pins,” he said.

Pins, Tan said, indicated deployment of troops on the ground.

The military’s efforts in Sulu had been down played by an Abu Sayyaf spokesperson though.

Abu Raami pledged that the Abu Sayyaf will make it hard for the government troops to locate them.

“We know the terrain,” Raami said in a phone interview, also in June.

He said they have learned to evade detection by military aircraft by run(ning) for cover.”

“We put off all communications and we hide,” he said.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, John Ridsdel, Marites Flor, Robert Hall
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