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Two Abu Sayyaf rebels killed

November 04, 2001

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MANILA, Nov 3: At least two members of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf were killed and four, including a sub-commander, were captured when Philippine marine troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines on Saturday.

Reports reaching Manila said marine troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf gunmen in an island off the mainland province of Basilan, some 900 kilometres south of Manila, at around 4am.

The clash resulted in the death of two Abu Sayyaf members, the wounding of one, and the capture of four including a sub-commander, according to reports.

The military also recovered at least nine high-powered firearms.

The government has ruled out a suspension of military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf rebels would only be halted if they surrender and free two American and eight Filipino hostages without conditions.

An Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya has reportedly sent feelers for negotiations with the government.

National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said the government and the military will not agree to any offers of negotiations by the Abu Sayyaf.

“We have repeatedly said that the reason why the military is running after them is because they are holding captive innocent victims,” he said Friday.

“The best thing they can do is to immediately surrender the hostages,” he added. “And if they want to surrender, they can easily do that. They just have to lay down their arms and surrender.”

Golez said there was no “fixed deadline” for the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, but noted that the military has been achieving “very dramatic successes” against the rebel group.

On Thursday, military officials said at least nine Abu Sayyaf rebels, including two junior commanders, were killed in separate clashes in the hinterlands of Basilan.

They added that Sabaya has reiterated his offer to negotiate a “peaceful solution” to the hostage crisis. The rebel spokesman also sought a “safe conduct pass” to free the captives, including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham.

The Burnhams were among 20 people seized on May 27 from a Philippine luxury resort. The hostages were brought to Basilan where the rebels took additional captives in the towns of Lamitan and Lantawan while evading government troops.—dpa