MANILA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The peace adviser of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday confirmed that Islamic militants have executed the 70-year-old German man who they have been holding captive since November last year.
"We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim, German Juergen Gustav Kantner in Sulu," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said in a statement to the media.
"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," Dureza said.
Dureza lamented that "another precious life had been needlessly lost."
"There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless," he added.
"Terrorism has no place in a country like ours as we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head," he said.
The Abu Sayyaf group abducted Kantner in November last year after hijacking their yacht while he was sailing with his wife Sabine Merz off Sabah in Malaysia. Merz was raped and killed by the abductors and her body was found on the yacht. Kantner was taken to Sulu province where he was kept for more than two months and eventually executed.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits have demanded a 30 million pesos (598,000 U.S. dollars) ransom for Kantner's release. The kidnappers set 3 p.m. local time Sunday as deadline for the payments of the ransom.
Meantime, Philippine troops shelled on Monday the lair of Abu Sayyaf militants on another southern Philippine island of Basilan. Using fighter planes and artillery, the military claimed that an "undetermined number" of militants were killed in the all-out assault. But not a single body was found in the aftermath of the raid.
President Duterte has said that the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf group has links with the IS militants in the Middle East.
Duterte has ordered the military to launch an all-out offensive against the estimated 500 Abu Sayyaf bandits operating mostly in the hinterlands of southern Philippine provinces of Sulu and Basilan.