Philippines captures rebel leader

A senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, suspected of kidnapping 21 people from a Malaysian resort in April 2000, has been captured.

    Soldiers detained Ghalib Andang after clashes in the restive south

    Ghalib Andang, known as Commander Robot, was detained by soldiers on Sunday evening in the southern Philippines after being wounded in a fire fight, army sources said.

    "He's alive but wounded," military spokesman Daniel Lucero said, adding he would be flown back to Manila and possibly presented to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Monday.

    The victims of the kidnapping from the Sipadan resort in Malaysia came from seven different countries and were held for periods varying from a few months to three years. Ransoms are believed to have been paid in most cases.

    Southern islands
     
    The Abu Sayyaf group is one of several Muslim armed groups fighting the government in and around the southern island of Mindanao and has been linked by Washington to Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida network.

    Andang was not one of the five Abu Sayyaf members on a wanted list issued by the United States.

    The military said Andang was captured on the island of Jolo, south of Mindanao.

    The southern islands of the Phillipines were once part of a Muslim sultanate and much of the region remains home to predominantly Muslim populations.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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