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Despite the Abu Sayyaf Group's (ASG) threat to behead its German captive Juergen Kantner if their PHP30 million ransom is not paid Sunday, the military said focused military operations against the bandits will continue.

"Focused military operations have been continuing in an unrelenting manner. There will be no pause. We put a premium on lives now in danger. The Armed Forces will pursue the enemy and dictate the terms, not the other way around," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

He added these operations are not only aimed at rescuing hostages but also to significantly degrade enemy capabilities.

"We will not be cowed by the demands of evil individuals and groups who continue to perpetuate practices contrary to Islam," Padilla said.

Earlier, a video showing Kantner and his captors went viral online. In the said clip, the German was urging his government to pay the bandits' PHP30 million ransom demand as the ASG threatened to behead him 3 p.m. Feb. 26 if it was not paid before that time.

Kantner was kidnapped by the ASG bandits while his yacht "Rockall" was cruising off Sulu waters last November.

His companion, 56-year-old Sabine Mertz, was allegedly raped and killed by the bandits.

Similarly, the Western Mindanao Command (WMC), the military unit tasked to rescue Kantner and other ASG captives, said they are exerting all efforts to safely recover the victims from the bandits' clutches.

"With deadline or no deadline, the WMC troops are exerting all effort and means in order to go after the terrorist group Abu Sayaff and to rescue all kidnap victims, foreign and local," WMC spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay said.

"The recent successes of the troops that resulted to the capture of two ASG members in Bongao, Tawi-tawi two weeks ago and the killing of eight ASG members after an encounter in Capual, Sulu last Feb. 7, indicate that the terrorist group have been badly reeling from these series of setbacks due to the government troops' operations and no longer have safe established encampments for them to hide their victims. The timeline given maybe due to the shortness of their funds and the need for them to establish new hiding areas," she added.

Nevertheless, Petinglay said government forces in WMC area together with the local government units and the communities are jointly addressing the problem brought about by the common enemy, the ASG.

"Our troops are continuously conducting focused military operations to rescue the remaining hostages," WMC head Major Gen. Carlito Galvez said.

"We are calling for the people of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi for renewed cooperation in order to stop the un-Islamic and barbaric activities of the Abu Sayaff particularly on the kidnapping of innocent civilians," he added. (PNA)
BNB/PFN

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