ZAMBOANGA – Philippine soldiers on Tuesday shot dead an Islamic militant who was wanted for the 2001 kidnappings of three American tourists, the military said.
Suhud Tanadjalin, a member of the Abu Sayyaf group, was killed in a firefight at his hideout on the southern island of Basilan at dawn, said Brigadier-General Nicanor Dolojan, the Basilan military commander.
“We have recovered the body of the terrorist leader,” Dolojan told reporters, but added that three other militants escaped the army dragnet.
The local military said Tanadjalin took part in the 2001 Abu Sayyaf kidnapping raid on the Dos Palmas island resort in the western Philippines, when more than 30 people including three Americans were abducted.
The hostages were taken by boat to Basilan, where one of three Americans in the group, Peru-born Guillermo Sobero, was murdered.
Military operations on Basilan later forced the militants to flee to the main southern island of Mindanao, where a year later another American hostage, Christian missionary Martin Burnham, was killed in a military rescue attempt.
Burnham’s wife was rescued, while many of the Filipino hostages were earlier ransomed off.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of Islamic militants blamed for the nation’s worst terrorist attacks and a string of kidnappings. Many of its senior leaders have been killed or are now in jail.
US troops have been stationed in Basilan and other areas of the southern Philippines since early 2002 to train local forces in how to combat the Abu Sayyaf.
But the group, believed to have just a few hundred militants, survives with the support of local Muslim communities and its ability to raise funds with kidnapping-for-ransom stings.
Police suspect the Abu Sayyaf was behind a bus bombing in Manila last month that claimed five lives.
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