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Video shows beheading of German hostage, Philippines says

MANILA — After years sailing the oceans, Juergen Kantner was a German on paper only. In 2008, after he and his partner, Sabine Merz, had been abducted at sea, held for 52 days in Somalia and released after a six-figure ransom was reportedly paid, he returned there to get his boat.

“Why should I return to Germany, where I have nobody?” Kantner was quoted as saying at the time. “After 32 years on my boat, I have lost all contact” with people back home.

Still, he acknowledged that going back to Somalia was “a little bit like suicide,” and he said he prayed that he would not be taken hostage a second time.


Kantner and Merz returned to the ocean, and they eventually earned an unwanted distinction: They were abducted a second time, this time by members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in November, while sailing through the southern Philippines on their 53-foot yacht, the Rockall. The yacht was found months ago with a dead woman later identified as Merz.

On Monday, the Philippine and German governments said that a man who was shown being beheaded in a video released by the militant group was the 70-year-old Kantner.

The video, which runs for less than 2 minutes and which was posted on various sites affiliated with Abu Sayyaf, showed Kantner, hogtied and slumped to the ground with a machete-wielding militant behind him.

The bearded and disheveled hostage says faintly, “Now they’ll kill me.”

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” said Jesus Dureza, an adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. “Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the armed forces of the Philippines, exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best, but to no avail.”


Kantner appeared in another video released this month in which he said the Islamist militants would behead him soon if they did not receive a ransom.

Abu Sayyaf had demanded $600,000 for Kantner and had set a deadline of Sunday for the German and Philippine governments to comply.

Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the Philippines would stick to its policy of refusing to pay ransom and it would seek technological help from its allies to pinpoint remaining hostages.

“We will undertake our operations to make sure we give a premium to saving the lives of the hostages and precisely because of this our task has not been easy but we are prepared to crush them when the opportunity comes,” he said in Geneva, where he was attending a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Although Abu Sayyaf is relatively small, with fewer than 500 members, it has been responsible for some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, including bombings, killings, and the targeting of foreigners.