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Archive for Sunday, September 2, 2001

Philippine troops capture suspects in missionary couple’s kidnapping

September 2, 2001

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— Government troops have captured eight suspected members of an extremist group holding 18 people hostage, including an American couple, the military said Saturday.

The soldiers, who have been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas for more than three months, came upon a hastily abandoned rebel camp Thursday in remote Tuburan on Basilan island, army commander Col. Hermogenes Esperon said.

Two suspected guerrillas were cornered in an abandoned hut, and five others were captured in a nearby house, he said.

There was no word, however, on whether there was any sign of the hostages.

The soldiers recovered radio equipment, rifles and freshly cooked food, Esperon said.

On Friday, another suspected guerrilla was captured trying to slip through a military checkpoint in the town of Lamitan, the military said.

The Abu Sayyaf guerrillas are still holding Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries from Wichita, who were seized in late May from a resort in Palawan province southwest of Manila. Sixteen Filipinos also are believed held captive.

The guerrillas have claimed they beheaded a third American captive, Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., but his body has not been found.

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