Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2001

Talks begin for release of Americans

September 22, 2001


— Negotiations have begun for the release of an American couple being held by Muslim extremists in the southern Philippines, a radio station reported Friday.

The family of Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita, Kan., has appointed a Filipino negotiator "close to the family," the Radio Mindanao Network said without identifying its source.

RMN often receives calls from Abu Sabaya, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, which abducted the Burnhams along with Guillermo Sobero, of Corona, California, and 17 Filipinos from an island resort on May 27.

The report, which did not specify if ransom was involved, said that if the negotiations succeed, the couple could be released in Indonesia or Malaysia. The report also did not say when the negotiations started.

No other details were reported.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent Muslim extremist group based in Basilan and nearby Jolo island, reportedly has links with Osama bin Laden, the principal suspect in the last week's terrorist attacks in the United States.

The group rose to international notoriety last year when it abducted 21 Western tourists and Asian workers from a Malaysian resort.

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