News & Views

JURGEN KANTNER: German Cruiser Beheaded in Philippines, Body Recovered

Sabine and Jurgen

We have some very grim news here. That Jurgen Kanter, taken hostage by the Filipino terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, late last year, was beheaded last week after a ransom demand of $600K was not met. Just yesterday there came follow-up reports that Kantner’s remains have been recovered by the Philippine military. Reportedly, Philippine armed forces suffered fatal casualties during operations conducted in an effort to rescue Kantner and other hostages held by Abu Sayyaf. Evidently, no details on these casualties are available.

A video recording of the beheading was released by the terrorist group, and you can watch it at this link here. I personally do not recommend this, unless perhaps you are planning a cruise in the southern Philippines and need some sense slapped into you. Abu Sayyaf reportedly also beheaded one Filipino and two Canadian hostages last year and is currently holding at least other 26 hostages.

Kanter and his partner Sabine Merz (see photo up top), also a German national, were attacked by the terrorist pirates while cruising the southern Philippines in November aboard their boat Rockall. The body of Merz, who was shot dead in the attack after brandishing a weapon herself, was found aboard the boat.

SV Rockall

The yacht Rockall after it was recovered by Philippine authorities in the Sulu Sea

Knife to throat

Kantner's last moment

Kantner and Merz were previously taken hostage in Somalia in 2008 and were released after a six-figure ransom was paid. Kantner, a long-term diehard cruiser, returned to Somalia to retrieve his boat after he was released.

There hasn’t been much of a reaction to this among the cruising community online, which is sad, I think. But there was one nice tribute I found on the Cruiser’s Forum:

I was fortunate to be anchored next to them in Malaysia, close to Kuah for a month. This was almost directly after they had gotten their boat back and were in the middle of getting her shipshape again. Jurgen and his spouse shared their ordeal with me of Somalia, and it was very surreal and obviously difficult for them. But as true cruisers, they took it in stride and we would discuss bread making and cider production. They really inspired me as a cruising couple living the dream. I will never forget our daily meet ups at the rainwater outflow as we filled our jerry cans for the day. Rest in Peace… Randy SV Kitsune

SPEAKING OF SECURITY: The Caribbean Safety and Security Net, a volunteer group of cruising sailors, has recently released its annual report on crimes perpetrated against yachts in the Caribbean during 2016. This shows a marked increase of 90 reported incidents versus 77 incidents in the previous year.

Caribbean crime map

More than half the reported incidents took place in Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

One thing I wonder about these numbers, however, is whether they have increased in part because CSSN has improved their data collection. They have made it much easier to report incidents.

As always, in any event: let’s be careful out there!

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