John Ridsdel
Canadian John Ridsdel has been held captive fir the past six months BR10000/Twitter

A Canadian citizen held hostage in the Philippines has been killed by his capturers, terror group Abu Sayyaf, officials have said. The chairman of the Philippine Red Cross confirmed police on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines found a severed head of a Caucasian man believed to be that of 68-year-old John Ridsdel.

Ridsdel had been held captive along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Phillippino woman Marites Flor for six months after he visited the Philippine island of Mindanao on holiday. The Islamic militants had previously threatened to behead one of their hostages if a ransom was not paid.

Dick Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said: "We have received information that a headless body was found at 8.30 p.m. of a Caucasian man in Jolo City, Jolo Island", reported the Associated Press. "It appears to have been decapitated."

"A motorcycle driver threw a plastic bag in the road in front of where there were five children playing at 7.30 pm. But there was a brown-out [power failure]. When the lights went back on it was seen that there was blood on the plastic bag and police were called."

The Philippine military also confirmed to Reuters that a severed head had been found. Army spokesman Major Felimon Tan added: "We are being very careful; we can't say whose head it was." Further tests will need to be carried out to formally identify the victim.

Terrorist group Abu Sayyaf use ransom money to fund its Islamic separatism campaign in southern Philippines and are known to have pledged an allegiance to the Islamic State.