Troops kill militant blamed for beheadings of Canadians

Philippine troops battling militants in a central province have killed a key Abu Sayyaf commander who had been blamed for the beheadings of two Canadians hostages in 2016.
    
The Philippines military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press that troops have recovered and identified the remains of Moammar Askali, who used the nom de guerre Abu Rami, in the scene of the battle in a far-flung coastal village on Bohol island.
    
Five other Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed in the fighting on Tuesday, along with four soldiers and policemen.
    
Askali was blamed for the kidnappings of John Risdel and Robert Hall in September 2015. The Canadians had been taken from a marina by Abu Sayyaf gunmen along with a Norwegian man, Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Hall's Filipino girlfriend, Marites Flor.
    
The militant group demanded a ransom, which Canada refused to pay, and both Canadian men were beheaded last year.
    
Abu Sayyaf militants continue to hold at least 29 captives in Sulu's jungles, many of them foreign tugboat and cargo ship crewmen seized at the sea border between the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.