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MANILA, Philippines — The Islamist group accused of beheading a Canadian hostage in the Philippines may have plotted to kidnap boxing star Manny Pacquiao, the country's president said Wednesday.
President Benigno Aquino III also said the Abu Sayyaf militants also made threats against him and his family and wanted to explode bombs in Manila to try to get funding from ISIS.
"They allegedly even hatched plots to kidnap Manny Pacquiao or one of his children, as well as my sister Kris or one of her children, with the plan to use them in bargaining for the release of their cohorts," Aquino said, referring to his younger sister, who is a famous actress.
"Threats against my own life have been investigated," he said, without elaborating.
Aquino said the plans were uncovered and the country's troops had reduced the militants' ability to inflict harm.
Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, was beheaded after the Abu Sayyaf did not receive a large ransom it had demanded by a Monday deadline. A fellow Canadian, a Norwegian and a Filipino woman who were kidnapped with Ridsdel from a southern marina in September are still being held by the militants, along with about 20 other foreign hostages.
Police have recovered the former mining executive's head, which was dumped by the militants.
While Aquino has forged a peace pact with a larger Muslim rebel group, said said there is no possibility of engaging in talks with the brutal Abu Sayyaf.
The group began a series of large-scale abductions after it emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of a separatist rebellion by minority Muslims in the southern Philippines.
It has been weakened by more than a decade of government offensives, but has endured largely as a result of ransom and extortion earnings.