Philippine Troops Capture Abu Sayyaf Courier
An Abu Sayyaf rebel acting as a courier for the Muslim guerrillas holding up to 23 hostages in southern Basilan island has been arrested, the military said Saturday.
Muloh Abdullah, alias Commander Yusop, was arrested Wednesday at an undisclosed area in this southern port city of Zamboanga near Basilan and presented to the news media Saturday by armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Edilberto Adan.
"He is the courier of the Abu Sayyaf group," Adan said.
President Gloria Arroyo's spokesman, Rigoberto Tiglao, said the arrest was a "major breakthrough" in the government's fight against the rebels.
He said Abdullah has been through "tactical interrogation" and that information he supplied could be vital in dismantling the Abu Sayyaf network in Basilan and other urban centers.
The government had offered a one million peso bounty (19,230 dollar) for Abdullah's arrest and was wanted on kidnapping and murder charges, Tiglao said.
He added that Abdullah was arrested after intelligence agents were tipped off by civilians that he had landed in Zamboanga.
It was not clear under what circumstances Abdullah crossed to Zamboanga, although there has been persistent speculation that the families of some hostages have been secretly negotiating a ransom deal.
Earlier Saturday, police recovered the headless bodies of Filipino hostages Primitivo Falcasantos and Crisanto Suelo, which were dumped near Basilan's capital town of Isabela.
The rebels also claim to have beheaded American hostage Guillermo Sobero last week, although his body has not been found.
The Abu Sayyaf last month seized 20 hostages from a beach resort off the western province of Palawan and brought them across the sea to Basilan.
Eleven have been rescued or freed while two others were killed. The rebels later snatched Falcasantos and Suelo along with 13 other plantation workers and four hospital staff -- ZAMBAONGA, Philippines (AFP)
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