A Canadian yachtsman who was kidnapped from a marina in the Philippines last year has been killed
John Ridsdel, 68, was taken hostage from the Ocean View Marina on Samal Island, Davao in 2015, along with another Canadian sailor, Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and a Philippine woman, Marites Flor, who was travelling with Hall.
The group is understood to have been kidnapped by the militant group Abu Sayyaf, who demanded ransoms of $6.5million per person. The four were transported by boat to the island of Jolo, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold. The four captives later appeared on a video released by the terrorist group.
On Monday, 25 April it was discovered in Jolo City that Ridsdel had been beheaded, after a deadline the kidnappers had placed for ransom money had passed. The fate of the other three hostages is not currently known.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the killing as “an act of cold-blooded murder”.
Ridsdel’s family issued a statement in which they said he “loved life and lived it to the fullest, with his family and friends at the center”.
Ridsdel was a semi-retired mining executive who had cruised, lived and worked in the Philippines for a decade. Originally born in London, he worked as a journalist for many years before moving into communications, and had sailed extensively. He leaves behind two adult daughters.
The kidnapping took place on 21 September, 2015. Witnesses reported that the yachtsmen were taken by gunpoint at night from separate yachts, by at least 10 armed assailants.
Ridsdel was in the marina on board a 42ft catamaran, Aziza. Hall and his partner were on the yacht Renova, and Sekkingstad, who was the marina manager, was onboard his yacht Wiskun. Two American and Japanese sailors were also injured during the attack, having evaded capture by jumping into the water.
The UK Foreign Office updated their travel advice to the region on 20 April. It currently warns of “an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals since late 2015” in the Philippines, with “a particular threat in the southern Philippines, which includes but is not limited to the island of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago and coastal resorts, dive sites, and offshore areas in the nearby waters of the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea.”
A German cruising couple were abducted in 2014 on their way to Malaysia from Mindanao, and were released following a ransom payment.