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August 4, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippine rebels behead four more hostages,

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Diigo, January 11, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, British girl, 6, kidnapped by Muslim gang,
Diigo, January 14, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Eiman rescue efforts 'suspended for talks',
Diigo, January 14, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippines army 'closing in' on girl's kidnappers
Diigo, February 3, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Six-year-old hostage freed after gun battle,
Diigo, April 8, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, 13 Muslim rebels captured in Philippine ambush,
Diigo, May 21, 2004, Arab News, Abu Sayyaf Leader Captured in Southern Philippines, by Al Jacinto,
Diigo, May 24, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Two left dead after gang attacks tourist resort,
Diigo, May 27, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Tourists taken hostage in Philippines
Diigo, May 29, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Extremists threaten to kill hostages,
Diigo, June 6, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Hostages 'safe' in Philippines,
Diigo, June 10, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Deadline approaches for hostages,
Diigo, June 13, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Two beheaded Filipinos found in hunt for rebels,
Diigo, June 18, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippines officials believe US hostage is dead,
Diigo, June 25, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Rebel leader threatens to behead more hostages,
Diigo, July 9, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Top leader of Philippines' guerrilla group arrested,
Diigo, July 12, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, American hostage alive, claim Philippines rebels,
Diigo, August 4, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippine rebels behead four more hostages,
Diigo, August 5, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Army rescues 13 hostages from Philippine rebels,
Diigo, October 11, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, US to help Philippines fight Muslim separatists,
Diigo, November 1, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippine army kills five Muslim rebels,
Diigo, November 21, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Bush tells Philippines, we'll help your anti-terror war,

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August 4, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippine rebels behead four more hostages,
8:55:49 
Police in the Philippines have found four more headless bodies, apparently executed by the Muslim Abu Sayyaf separatist rebels. 
This brings the number of hostages killed since the guerrillas raided Lamitan village on Basilan Island two days ago to eight. 
16 villagers were taken hostage during the raid. 
Social workers in Lamitan said 47 families, mostly relatives of the victims, have fled their homes in fear of further attacks.


February 3, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Six-year-old hostage freed after gun battle,
 - 12:53:39
The six-year-old girl who spent 23 days as a hostage of Philippine rebels was freed by soldiers after a 15-minute gunfight.
The kidnappers eventually abandoned Eiman April Grant in Tuburan municipality on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines after the battle, Tuburan police chief Abdurahman Hashim said.
There were no casualties. Troops pursued some of the kidnappers, who fled towards a nearby mountain. Other captors escaped by sea in two motorised outriggers, Hashim said.
The girl was flown to a military camp in Zamboanga City, where she was reunited with her Filipino mother, Mina Rasul Grant. Her stepfather, Douglas Grant, is British.
The girl, wearing yellow shorts and a white T-shirt with her hair in a ponytail, said she was treated well during her ordeal. She said: "I feel fine but I'm a little tired. I am happy now".
The girl and her mother were later flown on a military transport plane to Manila, where they met British Ambassador Allan Collins at an air force base.
The girl's mother said she and her daughter, who is a Filipino citizen, want to be reunited with her husband in Britain.
Four suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels came to Mina Rasul Grant's home in Lamitan, Basilan, about 550 miles south of Manila, and demanded 100,000 pesos (£1,300) from her on January 10. When she was able to produce only 1,000 pesos (£13), they seized her daughter.
Officials said the rebels then turned over the child to guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the larger of the two Muslim rebel groups fighting for an independent Islamic nation in the southern Philippines.

May 27, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Tourists taken hostage in Philippines
9:31:32 
Up to 20 people, including foreign tourists, have been taken hostage by armed men from a Philippine island resort.
The reported kidnappings occurred at the Dos Palmas Island Resort at Honda Bay in Palawan province.
Military officials said about 20 unidentified men in ski masks took two Americans, a Spaniard, 13 Chinese Filipinos and four resort workers at gunpoint.
They fled aboard a motorboat. At least one child was among those abducted.
Military chief Dimedio Villanueva commented: "We are now scouring the islands."
He added that the Americans were a couple who had an address in the Manila area.
He would not comment on speculation that the kidnappers were Muslim extremists.
Captain Djo Jalandoni, with the military's western command, added: "We are looking for the perpetrators who were traveling south.
"We have out helicopters and airplanes with reconnaissance capabilities. We also have patrol boats going in that direction to cut them off. There's a good possibility they're heading to Jolo."
Jolo is where the Abu Sayyaf group is based.

November 1, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippine army kills five Muslim rebels,
7:38:51
The Philippine army has killed at least five Muslim separatists on the remote southern island of Basilan. 
Col Roland Detabali, the army chief in the south, said none of his men were injured in the gunfight with the Abu Sayyaf rebels, who are fighting for an Islamic homeland in the mainly Catholic Philippines. 
Col Detabali said the soldiers, who were on a ‘search and destroy’ mission, discovered the guerrillas in the town of Tipo-Tipo. 


April 8, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, 13 Muslim rebels captured in Philippine ambush,
- 11:45:14
Philippine troops have captured 13 Muslim guerrillas in an attempt to rescue a US hostage they have been holding since last August. 
The military clashed with a rearguard unit of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group in the village of Talipao on Jolo island. 
The rebels had recently threatened to behead their hostage as a birthday present for President Gloria Arroyo.


May 24, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Two left dead after gang attacks tourist resort,
- 18:26:25
Security is being tightened in the Philippines after an armed gang attacked a beach resort.
Soldiers, helicopters and patrol boats are hunting the 20-strong gang which left two dead and three wounded.
The tourists were attacked at the Pearl Farm resort.
According to Military Chief of Staff Diomedio Villanueva, the gang was last seen in a rural fishing village where it took four civilians hostage as human shields.
He commented: "Our soldiers are pursuing the buccaneers... Where villagers reported seeing them with the hostages."
The gang, armed with grenade launchers, was seen off by private security at the resort. They hijacked a motorboat and later freed the two civilians in the boat.
The military said the attackers meant to take foreign hostages but were not likely to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim group that kidnapped dozens of mostly foreign tourists last year.


January 14, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippines army 'closing in' on girl's kidnappers
- 09:44:57
The military in the Philippines say they are closing in on rebels who have kidnapped six-year-old Eiman Grant.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines believe the girl is being held in a heavily- forested area in Parang, Tubaran, in the Basilan province where she was snatched.
An Islamic militant group is thought to be behind the kidnap although the military refused to rule out the possibility that it had been organised by the girl's mother, Mina, to extort money from her British stepfather.
Mrs Grant, 43, made an emotional appeal on a local radio station on Saturday for her daughter's return, the Philippines Daily Inquirer reported.
In a message to the little girl, she said: "I know that you will say, 'Mommy, I'll be a good girl, Mommy please take me home now'.
"Don't be sad. Eat your food. I miss you very much. You should eat so you can stay healthy. You ask them the kidnappers anything you want. Don't hesitate".
Mrs Grant said an armed gang tricked their way into her home earlier this week. They demanded 100,000 pesos (£1,300) and when she could not produce it they snatched Eiman and ordered her family to come up with the cash.
The kidnappers are thought to be linked to a Muslim separatist group called the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or the Abu Sayyaf.

Eiman's stepfather, Douglas Grant, dismissed suggestions that his wife had organised the kidnap as "total garbage".

Speaking from his home in Inverness, the 50-year-old hospitality manager said the military had failed to take action since the kidnapping on Wednesday and were now trying to divert attention from it.


June 6, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Hostages 'safe' in Philippines,
 - 17:12:34
The leader of a group of Muslim extremists who took 20 tourists hostage in the Philippines today claimed his men beheaded three soldiers and that an American missionary was wounded during a clash.

The hostage-takers claimed that the rest of their hostages were safe.

Abu Sabaya also claimed negotiations with a government representative had begun with his demand that the troops chasing the Abu Sayyaf rebels through the rugged jungle must be withdrawn.

It was the first public contact from Sabaya since his men fled on Saturday night from a hospital they occupied for a day in the town of Lamitan. 

The hostage saga began on May 27 with abductions from a beach resort across the Sulu Sea.


August 5, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Army rescues 13 hostages from Philippine rebels,
 - 10:02:52
The Philippine Army has rescued 13 hostages from the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have beheaded 10 captives in the last three days. 

An army spokesman said the 13 people they rescued were among a group of 36 who were kidnapped from the town of Balobo on Basilan Island on Thursday. 

A separate Abu Sayyaf unit is still holding more than 20 other hostages on another part of Basilan. 

The extremist separatist faction has been blamed for beheading 16 people since last June. 

Hostage-taking and ransom demands are the group's favoured means of fund-raising.


October 11, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, US to help Philippines fight Muslim separatists,
- 11:23:58
US military advisors are to provide training to Philippine soldiers fighting the Muslim Abu Sayyaf guerrilla movement in the south of their country. 

The advisors will offer intelligence co-operation and supply equipment as well as training the 7,000 troops who are currently stationed in the Abu Sayyaf stronghold on Basilan Island. 

Basilan Island is in the south-western Philippines 

This latest development will do little to support America’s claims that its so-called "war on terrorism" is not a campaign against Islam. 

In return for the training, the Philippines has agreed to allow the US to use its airspace during attacks on Afghanistan.


July 9, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Top leader of Philippines' guerrilla group arrested,
6:11:28
A top leader of a Muslim extremist kidnapping group and three junior guerrillas have been arrested in the Philippines.

Nadzmie Sabtulah, also known as Commander Global, is the highest ranking member of the Abu Sayyaf arrested yet.

National police Chief Leandro Mendoza said a tip-off led officers to a hideout in General Santos City.

They are part of a group holding about 20 hostages on the southern island of Basilan.

Nadzmie Sabtulah is believed to have participated in a mass kidnapping of foreigners at a beach resort in Malaysia last year.

Thousands of troops have been hunting the Abu Sayyaf and their hostages for more than a month on Basilan.


January 14, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Eiman rescue efforts 'suspended for talks',
 - 15:51:04
The Philippine army has suspended efforts to rescue six-year-old Eiman Grant from Muslim rebels to allow negotiations for her release.

Troops have encircled a forested area in Tuburan, in the southern island province of Basilan, where the guerrillas are holding the stepdaughter of Briton Douglas Grant.

Four suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels abducted Grant on Wednesday from her home in Basilan. Her Filipino mother, Nina Rasul Grant, said they demanded 100,000 pesos (£1,350).

The Abu Sayyaf rebels have turned over the kidnapped child to guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a larger Muslim rebel group fighting for an independent Islamic nation in the southern Philippines.

Army officials are now negotiating with the MLF.

Mrs Grant said the Abu Sayyaf abductors threatened to kill the child if the authorities learned of the kidnapping. Lucero said their information indicated the child was still alive.



November 21, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Bush tells Philippines, we'll help your anti-terror war,
- 10:41:32
George W Bush has assured the Philippines that the US will help pursue a militant Muslim group holding two Americans hostage.

The US President made his comments as he greeted Philippines leader Gloria Macrophage Arroyo in the White House's Oval Office.

He said the front against terror was not just in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush suggested that members of al-Qaida were operating in the Philippines, saying the US would hunt down terrorists "in Afghanistan or the Philippines or anywhere al-Qaida exists".

Abu Sayyaf has been holding two American missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita, Kansas, and a Filipino nurse for nearly six months, with 7,000 Filipino soldiers in pursuit.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed confidence that her military was up to the task, but Mr Bush still offered to help "in any way she suggests in getting rid of Abu Sayyaf". 


June 25, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Rebel leader threatens to behead more hostages,
9:58:57
A Muslim extremist leader responsible for the abduction of dozens of hostages threatened today to kill more of them if the Philippine Government does not accept his choice of negotiators.

Speaking by satellite telephone from the jungles of Basilan island in the southern Philippines, Abu Sabaya said he will only issue a list of demands once a former Malaysian senator, a Malaysian businessman and a Filipino official are brought in to mediate.

All three were involved in a hostage crisis last year involving Sabaya’s group, the Abu Sayyaf, that ended with the reported payment of millions of dollars in ransoms.

But the Malaysians said they do not want to get involved further.

Today Sabaya warned he would behead more hostages, including American Martin Burnham, who is being held with his wife, Gracia. That, he claimed, could spread the influence of the Muslim insurgency currently under way in the southern Philippines to other countries.

‘‘I’m saying our demand is not money,’’ Sabaya. ‘‘If we chop off the heads of people like Mr Burnham, the Americans would intervene, and so would the Arabs and bin Laden’s groups. What will happen then to the Philippines?’’

The Philippine Government has said Abu Sayyaf gets at least some backing from Osama bin Ladan, the wealthy Saudi accused of masterminding terrorist attacks from bases in Afghanistan.

‘‘The main reason here is freedom. Our other demands we will disclose through the negotiators,’’ Sabaya said.

‘‘If it was only for money, we made money from Sipadan,’’ he said, referring to the abduction of 21 people, including 10 foreigners, from a Malaysian dive resort in April 2000. ‘‘Our principles are more expensive.’’

Referring to the hostages in the current month-long crisis, Sabaya said: ‘‘They’re OK. We have divided them into different groups.’’

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has offered two million dollars (£1.4m) in reward for the capture of Abu Sayyaf leaders and has said they have only two choices: surrender or die.

‘‘That has no effect, her threats of us being pulverised,’’ Sabaya said. ‘‘Even if I die, or Khaddafy dies ... the group lives on.’’


January 11, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, British girl, 6, kidnapped by Muslim gang,
6:50:27
Four suspected Muslim gunmen have kidnapped a six-year-old British girl in the southern Philippines after her mother could not meet their demand for cash.

The four suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf separatist group entered the home of Philippine national Nina Rasul Grant and demanded 100,000 pesos (£1,500).

The woman said she only had 1,000 pesos so the men pointed assault rifles at her, grabbed her daughter April and fled down the nearby Bubawan river in two motorised outriggers.

Army spokesman Major Fredesvindo Covarrubias said the Grants were in Lamitan town on Basilan island, some 550 miles south of Manila, while they were waiting to join the girl's father, Frank Grant, who is currently in Scotland.

Maj Covarrubias said the kidnappers were likely to be part of a band of Abu Sayyaf rebels that have kidnapped in the Basilan area in the past.

Abu Sayyaf is the smaller but more extremist of two Muslim rebel groups fighting to create a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

Officials of the British Embassy in Manila were not immediately available for comment.

Last April, Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnapped 21 Western holidaymakers and Asian workers from a Malaysian dive resort and brought them to the Philippine island of Jolo, near Tawi Tawi. They later kidnapped several other people, including foreign journalists.

All but two of the captives, American Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino dive resort worker Roland Ullah, were freed by the rebels, reportedly in exchange for huge ransoms.

The military began massive assaults against the rebels in September to rescue the remaining hostages and neutralise the guerrilla group.


June 13, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Two beheaded Filipinos found in hunt for rebels,
- 13:38:33
As the Philippines Government stepped up its battle with Muslim rebel hostage-takers today, the military said it found two bodies in guerrilla territory, but neither belonged to the American captive the insurgents claim to have beheaded.

Troops searching an area where Abu Sayyaf guerrillas were believed to be holding 28 hostages said they could not find any sign of Guillermo Sobero, the California resident that the rebels said they killed yesterday.

Several hundred military reinforcements joined thousands of troops to hunt the rebels on the southern island of Basilan, and more were to arrive soon, National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said.

Troops found two beheaded bodies of Filipinos near where rebels seized 15 people from a plantation on Monday. Golez said one was unrelated to the hostage crisis; the other was a Muslim negotiator who had contacted the rebels.

Still, armed forces Chief of Staff Diomedio Villanueva said a military intelligence task force reported the possibility that Sobero had been killed remained ‘‘very, very high.’’

Joel Maturan, mayor of the central Basilan town of Tipo Tipo where the Muslim negotiator was found dead, said four negotiators tried to approach the rebels but three fled when rebel leader Abu Sabaya grew angry with their offer.

Maturan told an American television station that Sabaya ordered his men to tie up the negotiator in the form of a cross.

They ‘‘immediately chopped off his head,’’ Maturan said.

It’s not clear what the negotiators’ offer was or when the beheading took place. Golez said the negotiators were not working for the government.

Police Senior Supt Akmad Mamalinta said today that 60 rebels were spotted near General Santos city in the southern Philippines earlier this week, toting machine-guns. He said they bought food from farmers before disappearing into a jungle.

Mamalinta said a separate group of 10 heavily armed men, three apparently wounded, were spotted by farmers in the area earlier.

On May 27, the rebels raided the Dos Palmas resort in the southwestern Philippines, taking 20 people hostage, including Sobero and a missionary couple from Wichita, Kansas: Martin and Gracia Burnham. Nine captives later escaped, and two resort staff members were found hacked to death.

In subsequent attacks, the Abu Sayyaf took more hostages in a hospital and a plantation on Basilan island.

Sabaya yesterday claimed his rebels killed Sobero, a 40-year-old native of Peru, as a gift for the country on Philippine Independence Day.

‘‘We’ve released unconditionally one American, our amigo Guillermo, but we released him without a head,’’ Sabaya said.

He taunted President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has ordered all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf: ‘‘Tell Gloria to hurry up and solve this with her rescue operation because you might not have any hostages left.’’

Earlier, Sabaya had demanded that former Malaysian Sen. Sairin Karno be brought in to help negotiate. He said yesterday that the rebels had beheaded Sobero because he felt the Philippines government was insincere when it said it would accept Sairin’s participation.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the Philippines had not asked for Sairin’s help. Asked about the prospect of allowing that, Mahathir said: ‘‘We will study it. If it is not too much of a problem, we will,’’ the national news agency, Bernama, reported.

Arroyo, who has offered £1.4m in rewards for Abu Sayyaf leaders and members, said the guerrilla group ‘‘tramples on the values of all humanity.’’

The US Embassy in Manila condemned the reported beheading as a ‘‘cowardly act.’’

Last year, the rebels seized several hostages and executed two Filipino teachers as a ‘‘birthday gift’’ to then-President Joseph Estrada. But this was the first time the Abu Sayyaf had claimed to have killed a foreigner.

Sairin helped mediate last year’s kidnapping crisis, during which millions of pounds in ransoms were reportedly paid to the rebels. The insurgents reportedly used ransom money to buy arms and speedboats. Arroyo has vowed to pay no ransoms this time.

The Abu Sayyaf group says it is fighting to create a southern Islamic state, but the government calls the rebels mere bandits. Muslims are a minority in the mostly Roman Catholic Philippines, but they form a majority in the southern islands where the Abu Sayyaf operates.


June 18, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Philippines officials believe US hostage is dead,
7:28:46
A top Philippines military spokesman said today that officials believe American hostage Guillermo Sobero is dead. 
Muslim extremists claimed last week they had beheaded him.
Brigadier General Edilberto Adan told a news conference that the conclusion was based in part on information provided by Francis Ganzon, one of three other hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas who were reunited with their families on Saturday.
The rebels still hold about two dozen other hostages, including Kansas missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. They were captured three weeks ago in a raid on an island resort across the Sulu Sea.
‘‘We have strong reasons to believe the statement of Mr Ganzon that Guillermo Sobero is dead,’’ Adan said in Manila. ‘‘He appeared to have died on the night of June 11 after he was hogtied and separated from the rest of the hostages.
‘‘Before this, he was suffering from a wound in his right foot. It appears he was diabetic because the nurses, after administering antibiotics, found the wound did not heal.’’
He said he had no word on the specific cause of death. Abu Sabaya, an Abu Sayyaf leader holding the hostages, said last Tuesday he had killed the 40-year-old Corona, California, man for what he perceived as a government double-cross.
‘‘Various groups have been asked to help locate the body of Sobero. We have no proof as to the exact cause of death. The beheading is a statement of Sabaya,’’ Adan said.
Sabaya claimed Sobero was killed because the Government agreed - minutes before a Sabaya-imposed deadline to kill the Peru native - to a rebel demand for a Malaysian negotiator involved in ending another Abu Sayyaf kidnapping crisis last year. But Sabaya said troops attacked the same night.
‘‘Sabaya said that this was such a joke,’’ Ganzon said in a radio interview last Saturday. ‘‘That night, they said they had cut his head off. But I myself did not see it.’’
Adan said troops were in hot pursuit of the rebels today on the southern island of Basilan.
‘‘We believe they’re (the rebels) still in central Basilan. Our troops are closing in on them,’’ Adan said. ‘‘The vegetation is very dense and terrain is muddy, and the rebels have their diversionary attacks to mislead their true location.’’
He reported a 15-minute encounter between soldiers and the rebels on Sunday afternoon. There were no government casualties, and troops recovered an M-16 rifle, he added.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was visiting Basilan today.
After the resort raid, the rebels transported their hostages to Basilan in what Ganzon called a grueling 10-hour speedboat trip.
Since then, 11 of the original hostages have escaped, some reportedly were allowed to do so after relatives paid ransoms in violation of government policy and two resort workers have been found hacked to death.
But the rebels seized four medical personnel when they occupied a hospital for a day two weeks ago, and grabbed another 15 people in an assault on a plantation last Tuesday.
The Government has resisted ransoms because it claims the Abu Sayyaf used the money from last year’s kidnappings to rearm and resupply and that further payments would feed a cycle of abductions.
The Abu Sayyaf says it wants a southern Islamic state, but the government calls the rebels mere bandits. 
Muslims are a minority in the mostly Roman Catholic Philippines, but they form a majority in the southern islands where the Abu Sayyaf operates.


June 10, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Deadline approaches for hostages,
 10:04:31
Authorities were today anxiously awaiting contact with Muslim extremists as the rebels’ threatened to behead three American captives.
The Abu Sayyaf rebels originally said on Thursday they would kill the Americans among their 13 hostages in 72 hours, or sometime this afternoon.
But National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said rebel leader Abu Sabaya told a government negotiator he would carry out the threat tomorrow if authorities didn’t appoint two Malaysians to negotiate their release.
Thousands of soldiers scoured the southern island of Basilan, racing the deadline. The Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have 1,100 fighters in the southern Philippines,
"We have troops from the east and troops from the west in a pincer movement to make sure we find them as soon as possible and crush them," Golez said today. 
"We are not prepared to grant any concessions."
Guerrilla leader Abu Sabaya has demanded the Philippine government appoint former Malaysian lawmaker Sairin Karno and merchant Yusof Hamdan as mediators.
Both negotiated last year when the Abu Sayyaf released foreign hostages taken from a Malaysian resort, reportedly for millions of dollars in ransom.
Presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao has said a foreign mediator "might cause some misunderstanding".
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who took office early this year, reiterated her no-ransom policy today.
"If we gave ransom, what would happen? All this will happen again, and the Abu Sayyaf will even be able to modernise," Arroyo said.
Basilan provincial Governor Wahab Akbar said there were reported sightings of about 100 Abu Sayyaf guerillas led by Sabaya, carrying six hostages in Lantawan town in central Basilan, 560 miles south of Manila.
It was not known if the American hostages were with them, but it was likely they were since Sabaya led the group, Akbar said.
He said he was unaware of any deadline set by Sabaya, but that it was unlikely the guerillas would kill all three Americans.
"They are dollars and bargaining chips," Akbar said.
He cited local residents as saying the hostages were being hidden in schools and houses.
Troops combed the island for a fourth straight day with no sign of the rebels, who fanned out into dense jungle to escape their pursuers.
Other than a few calls by satellite telephone from Sabaya in recent days, mostly cut off after brief, shaky connections, official government negotiators reported little contact with the group.
The Government said it would only discuss the hostages’ unconditional release.
The Abu Sayyaf seized Corona, California, resident Guillermo Sobero and Wichita, Kansas, missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham on May 27 in a raid on a western Philippine beach resort.
They also took 17 Filipino hostages, including three resort workers. Nine escaped during fierce fighting with the military a week ago. Two of the workers were later found hacked to death. One was beheaded.
After seizing four people from a hospital last Saturday, the Abu Sayyaf had 13 hostages.
The Abu Sayyaf has threatened to kill foreign hostages in the past but has not done so.


July 12, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, American hostage alive, claim Philippines rebels,
- 06:11:37
A Muslim separatist group in the Philippines today said it believed an American hostage was alive despite claims of another rebel group that they beheaded him.
Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said California resident Guillermo Sobero is probably being held by "a highly mobile" group of Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists on the southern island of Basilan.
"The information from our ground commander (on Basilan) is that he is still alive," Kabalu said. "We are monitoring this closely because the actions of (the Abu Sayyaf) affect us."
Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya has repeatedly said his men beheaded Sobero on June 12, the Philippines’ Independence Day, as a warning to the government to call off its offensive.
The Philippine military has also said it believes Sobero is dead.
"Military reports indicate that Sobero is dead although we haven’t found the body," said military spokesman Lt Col Danilo Servando today.
Sobero was among 20 people, including three Americans, abducted by the Abu Sayyaf from a southwestern Philippine beach resort May 27. The guerrillas seized more hostages last month in raids on a coconut plantation and a hospital on Basilan island.
Some hostages were freed or escaped and the rebels are still thought to hold about 20 people, including missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham of Wichita, Kansas.
None of the released hostages reported seeing Sobero since he was reportedly beheaded.
However, some released hostages said they saw Sobero tied up and taken away from the rest of the group before the Abu Sayyaf reported they killed him.
The military has also said the hostages were split up into at least three groups and were being held on Basilan.
On July 2, Kabalu said he had received sketchy reports that Sobero was still alive and promised to investigate them. He said Thursday’s statement was a result of the investigation of MILF on Basilan.
Sobero’s sister, Ana Sobero, made a public plea last month to the Abu Sayyaf to let her brother, Guillermo, speak to his family and relieve their suffering. The Abu Sayyaf, which has used the station to make statements, then repeated their statement that Sobero was dead.
The Abu Sayyaf, with about 1,100 fighters, is much smaller than the 15,000 member MILF but is more radical. The MILF, which wants an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines, has condemned the Abu Sayyaf’s kidnapping.
Both groups have large contingents on Basilan island where the hostages are being held. The army has said the MILF must be aware of the Abu Sayyaf movements there.
The Government recently signed a cease-fire with the MILF while 5,000 troops on Basilan wage an "all-out war" against the Abu Sayyaf.
The Abu Sayyaf says it is seeking an independent Muslim state, but the Government calls it a band of thieves specializing in kidnappings for ransom.


May 29, 2001, Thomas Crosbie BreakingNews, Extremists threaten to kill hostages,
- 08:27:47
A Muslim extremist group that snatched 20 people, including three Americans, from an island resort in the Philippines threatened today to kill all the hostages if the military moves attempt to rescue them.

The threat from the Abu Sayyaf militants came after the president vowed to crush the group.
The Philippine military said today it was preparing troops to take action swiftly once it locates the kidnappers, who disappeared in boats speeding across the Sulu Sea after seizing the Americans and 17 Filipinos.
‘‘If we encounter the military and find out they are operating against us, we will kill all the hostages,’’ Abu Sabaya, a rebel leader, said in a statement by satellite phone to the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN).
‘‘We are ready to die fighting. This is suicide,’’ Abu Sabaya said. ‘‘The government knows what to do. The government knows our capability.’’
Abu Sayyaf plagued the government with a series of kidnapping standoffs that endured for months last year including the abduction of tourists from a Malaysian resort. It has killed hostages in the past, including two teachers last year after the government declared war on the group. During the past kidnappings, the rebels often used privately owned RMN, based in Zamboanga city, to pass messages.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said today she would crush the Abu Sayyaf.
‘‘To Abu Sayyaf, it’s good for you to release all your hostages because if not, bullets will rain on you,’’ Arroyo said. ‘‘To the family of hostages seized by rebels we’re doing everything we can to save your relatives.’’
‘‘When there is a war, you know what the priorities are, and there is a war in that part of the Philippines,’’ Arroyo said.
She declared a news blackout on details of military operations and urged journalists not to try to cover the government’s rescue efforts.
So far, the military has been unable to track down the kidnappers. Gunmen snatched the hostages on Sunday morning from the Dos Palmas resort off Palawan Island in the southwestern Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf has battled government troops over the past nine months, particularly on Jolo Island in Sulu province, where it held most of the scores of hostages it took last year. Among them was Californian, Jeffrey Schilling, who was freed in an army raid in April.
The military has requested additional troops from the Philippines’ main Luzon Island, who are standing by to be flown in quickly if the group is found.
Arroyo said she had a no-ransom policy and offered £1.5 million in rewards: £65,000 for each Abu Sayyaf leader and £13,000 dollars for each member of the group involved in the kidnappings.
The Abu Sayyaf says it is fighting for a separate Muslim state in the south of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. But the government calls it a gang of outlaws thriving on kidnapping and piracy.

May 21, 2004, Arab News, Abu Sayyaf Leader Captured in Southern Philippines, by Al Jacinto,
ZAMBOANGA CITY, 21 May 2004 — Government soldiers stormed a hideout of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and arrested a senior militant leader implicated in the kidnappings of two Belgian nationals and a British girl in the southern port city of Zamboanga, officials said.

Maj. Gen. Trifonio Salazar said soldiers arrested Usman Lidjal and an unidentified follower in the coastal village of Talon-Talon late Wednesday after civilian informants tipped off the military about their presence.

“Commander Usman Lidjal is finally arrested. There is now justice, to those who were victimized by this terrorist leader,” General Salazar told Arab News.

He said civilian informants privided his group with vital intelligence information that led to the capture of Lidjal. He said a third militant suspect had escaped the raid, but troops were sent to track him down in the village.

Salazar said Lidjal is facing a string of murder and kidnapping charges in Basilan island and in Zamboanga City.

Other reports said Lidjal was nabbed at a military checkpoint in the village after soldiers positively identified him. The military said Lidjal was a former leader of the separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) before he joined the Abu Sayyaf in the late 1990s.

His group also provided sanctuary to the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani soon after they kidnapped in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan island Kansas missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and Californian Guillermo Sobero and other Filipino holiday-makers in 2001.

Military spokesman Col. Daniel Lucero said Lidjal masterminded the kidnappings of the Belgians agrarian expert Lieven dela Marche, 37, and journalist Erick Bracke, 39, who were seized at sea while on their way to an island resort called Sta. Cruz off Zamboanga City in June 1999.

Lidjal was also implicated in the kidnapping of the Eiman Grant, the six-year old stepdaughter of a Scottish man Douglas Grant in Basilan in January 2001. The three victims were freed after their families allegedly paid huge amount of ransom money.

Lucero also said Lidjal was behind many other kidnappings and killings in Basilan. “He is one of the most notorious terrorist that we had been hunting in the past in Basilan. His arrest would surely bring peace to all in the island,” he said.
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