John Ridsdel
Canadian John Ridsdel was held captive for six months by the Abu Sayyaf Group BR10000/Twitter

Following the beheading of a Canadian national by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines, Muslim leaders from the Southeast Asian country have voiced their censure of the militant group's actions and have deemed it a "satanic act".

According to the Inquirer, the secretary general of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), Alih Aiyub released a statement after the severed head of the ASG captive, identified as Canadian tourist John Ridsdel was thrown on a street in Jolo Island on 25 April.

"We, the Ulama Conference of the Philippines, strongly condemn this barbaric and satanic act the beheading of the Canadian hostage by ASG, which we consider one of the terrorist groups," Aiyub said.

He claimed that his organisation has urged authorities to use all resources to bring these murderers to justice. "And we pray for the safety of the remaining hostages and call upon the authorities to exert efforts in saving the remaining hostages and to punish these terrorists," he added.

Sixty eight-year-old Ridsdel along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall (50), a Filipina identified as Marites Flor (40) and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad (56) were kidnapped by the ASG in September 2015 in the Philippines. The group had demanded a ransom of $6.4mn (£4.4mn) for the release of each hostage and threatened to execute Ridsdel if the governments of Canadian and Philippines failed to do so.

While the beheading is being regarded as a terrorist act, a former hostage of the ASG was of the view that it was just a matter of their demands not being met. Australian Warren Rodwell who spent 15 months as a captive with the militant group told Fairfax Media that despite the attackers announcing their allegiance to Islamic State (Isis), the actually execution was primarily in order to maintain their credibility.

"After having issued a final ultimatum all credibility would have been lost if the decapitation was not carried out," Rodwell said.