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Philippine militants demand high-stakes ransom for hostages

A Philippine militant group has demanded more than $80 million for four hostages, including three foreigners, jihadist watchdog SITE reported. The Philippine government said they uphold a "no-ransom" policy.

The US-based jihadist watchdog SITE Intelligence Group reported Wednesday that

Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf

released a video demanding one billion Philippine pesos ($21 million; 19.2 million euros) each for the release of three foreigners and one Filipino.

The group - designated a terrorist group by the US and the Philippines - said that they would begin killing the hostages if their demands were not met, although Abu Sayyaf did not specify a timeframe.

The video shows Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor surrounded by more than a dozen men dressed in black.

"We're being ransomed each for 1 billion pesos," said Ridsdel in the video, as an Abu Sayyaf militant held a machete close to his head.

"I appeal to the Canadian prime minister and the people of Canada, please pay this ransom as soon as possible, or our lives are in great danger," Ridsdel noted.

Abu Sayyaf rebels are known for committing the most treacherous acts in the predominantly Catholic country

Abu Sayyaf rebels are known for committing the most treacherous acts in the predominantly Catholic country

'No-ransom policy'?

Abu Sayyaf - founded in the early 1990s with donations from former al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden - reportedly

kidnapped the hostages from Samal Island,

a well-known tourist destination.

The hostages are believed to be held on Jolo Island, about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of the Philippine capital Manila.

The Philippine government said Wednesday that they adhere to a "no-ransom policy."

However, in October 2014, the militant group demanded $5.3 million (4.84 million euros) for

two German hostages

held for six months. According to security analysts, the

ransom was paid,

reported AFP news agency.

ls/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)

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