Seven Muslim Kidnappers Killed in Clash on Hostage Island
A soldier and seven members of a Philippine Muslim group holding an American and a Filipino hostage have been killed in a clash, the military said Tuesday.
Three other government troops were wounded in the fighting, on the southern island of Jolo, regional military spokesman Colonel Hilario Atendido said.
It erupted Sunday after elite Army Scout Rangers stormed an Abu Sayyaf hideout in the village of Pansol.
Atendido said the soldiers were met with strong resistance by some 140 fully armed Abu Sayyaf rebels, but later overran the camp.
Reports said seven rebels were killed, he added.
There were no signs of either of the two hostages still held by the group, American Jeffrey Schilling and Filipino dive instructor Roland Ullah, Atendido said.
The Philippine government on Monday rejected appeals from Schilling to resume negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf for his freedom, saying the military was only prepared to discuss an Abu Sayyaf surrender.
Schilling was quoted in a local press report Monday as saying he wanted the government to either rescue him or negotiate his freedom.
The paper also carried a photograph of a handcuffed Schilling, who appeared to have lost weight four months after being taken hostage.
Schilling and Ullah were the last of among dozens of western and local hostages abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in a kidnapping spree earlier this year.
President Joseph Estrada in September ordered an assault to end the crisis, leading to the recovery of 19 captives, including two Frenchmen, three Malaysians and a group of Filipino Christian preachers -- ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFP)
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