Sunday, December 16, 2007

Top Abu Sayyaf Militant Killed By Philippine Troops

Philippine troops killed a senior Islamic militant wanted by the United States after they raided his safe house in the restive south of the archipelago, officials said on Sunday.

Mobin Abdurajak, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, was wanted for kidnapping 21 people from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan in 2000. The victims were freed after a ransom was paid.

"The neutralization of Abdurajak is part of our campaign to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf terrorists," regional navy chief Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag said.

Navy officers and marines swooped on Abdurajak's hideout in Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost tip of the Philippines, on Saturday night. He was killed in the firefight.

The United States had offered $20,000 for the arrest of the militant, a brother-in-law of Abu Sayyaf chief Khadaffy Janjalani who was killed in a clash with the military last year.

The smallest of several Muslim rebel groups active in the south of the largely Catholic Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf is also the most notorious.

Last week, 14 of its members were sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping of 20 people from a luxury beach resort in the western Philippines in 2001 and the decapitation of three of them, including an American.

The Philippines is also fighting communist insurgents and on Sunday, members of the Maoist New People's Army killed three marines in an early morning ambush in the west of the archipelago, the military said.

Sunday was meant to be the first day of a three-week ceasefire with the NPA over the Christmas period.
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