The Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group, based in the Philippines, has decapitated one of its four hostages taken captive on Samal Island in September 2015.
There are conflicting reports as to who was beheaded.
CNN Philippines learned from a police report that the severed head belongs to Canadian hostage John Ridsdel.
Meanwhile, Dr. Raden Ikbala, one of the physicians of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it was the severed head of Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad.
“He was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in Sitio Pegeh Mount Dahu, Barangay Langub in Talipao town. It’s confirmed because the head is in the Jolo police station,” Ikbala reportedly told the Inquirer.
“The police gave the confirmation after a severed head, believed to be that of a foreign kidnap victim, was found at the corner of Mayor Salih Yusah and Sari Ahmad Streets in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu on Monday night [April 25],” reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Ridsdel and Sekkingstad were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf along with Canadian Robert Hall and Filipino Marites Flor.
Earlier, Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, asked for 300 million Philippine pesos ($8.3 million) in ransom for each of the hostages, threatening to behead them if they did not receive the money by 3 p.m. (local time) on April 25.
“The police report said two unidentified men aboard a motorcycle without a plate number threw the head somewhere along Marina Street, Barangay Walled City, Jolo at around 7:35 p.m.,” reports CNN. “It was wrapped in a plastic bag.”
“Jolo Police Chief Supt. Junpikar Sitin immediately went to the site, cordoned off the area and, informed the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) team, which confirmed the head belonged to Ridsdel,” adds the report.
The three males hostages appeared in a video, pleading their governments to pay the ransom.
“We’re told this is the absolute final warning, the final urgent appeal to governments — Philippine, Canadian — and families,” said Riddle in the video. “If 300 million [Philippine pesos, or $8.3 million] is not paid for me by 3 p.m. on April 25th, they will behead me.”
“My specific appeal is to the Canadian government, who I know has the capacity to get us out of here. I’m wondering what they’re waiting for,” added Hall.
Chief Inspector Junpikar Sittin, the police chief of Jolo, is quoted by the Inquirer as saying the head likely belonged to a “Caucasian-looking” person.
“We need to search for the body,” said Sittin.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III had deployed the police and military to rescue the victims following the April 25 deadline set by Abu Sayyaf.
“The government, however, maintained its no ransom policy,” notes CNN.