A Canadian captive in the clutch of Islamist militants for months in the Philippines has been killed.
John Ridsdel, 68, was taken from a tourist resort along with three others by the Abu Sayyaf group in September last year.
Confirming the death, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it “an act of coldblooded murder”.
On Monday a severed head was found on a remote Philippine island, hours after an Abu Sayyaf ransom deadline expired.
However,the Philippine army has yet to confirm if it belongs to one of the captives.
Mr Ridsdel was kidnapped from a marina near the city of Davao along with another Canadian, Robert Hall; a Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad; and a Philippine woman, Mr Hall’s girlfriend, Marites Flor.
They were taken 500km (300 miles) to the island of Jolo. Abu Sayyaf released a video of the group in November, demanding $80m (£55m) for their release.
Mr Ridsdel later warned that he was due to be killed if no ransom was paid.
Several hours after the deadline, a severed head was found in a street on Jolo. The Philippine authorities said it belonged to a foreign man but it has not yet been formally identified.
Former mining executive
“It’s hard,” a friend of Mr Ridsdel, Bob Rae, told media. “It’s just very hard. I’ve been involved behind the scenes for the last six months trying to find a solution and it’s been very painful.”
A former mining executive, Mr Ridsdel is described by Canadian media as semi-retired.
He also worked as a journalist.
Offering his condolences, Mr Trudeau gave few details, saying he would not compromise the safety of the other captives.
Abu Sayyaf was set up in the 1990s with funding from al-Qaeda, and is fighting for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
One of its commanders recently pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State. The group is also holding several other foreigners.
Eighteen Philippine soldiers were killed in clashes with the militants on Basilan island near Jolo island earlier this month.