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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Filipino nets Abu Sayyaf reward
Philippine special forces boat searching for Abu Sabaya's body
There is no trace of Abu Sabaya's body
An informant who led the Philippines military to a Muslim rebel leader believed to have been killed last week has been given a $100,000 (five million peso) reward.

President Gloria Arroyo handed the man a cheque at a ceremony in Manila on Tuesday.

President Gloria Arroyo hands a cheque to the informant known as Gardo Ibrahim
The spy (in baseball cap) acted as a courier and bodyguard
Abu Sabaya, a key leader of the Abu Sayyaf group notorious for kidnappings, is believed to have been killed in shoot-out at sea on Friday.

His body has not yet been found, but the authorities are certain he is dead.

Two captured rebels, speaking on a video released by the military, said their leader was shot in the back during the clash, which took place off southern Zamboanga del Norte province.

Hostages killed

The informant collected his money using the pseudonym Gardo Ibrahim and wearing a baseball cap to hide his face. He had acted as a courier for the rebels and acted as one of Mr Sabaya's bodyguards.

The military said Mr Ibrahim had called soldiers and told them Mr Sabaya was planning to escape to sea.

Abu Sabaya
Abu Sabaya: Notorious spokesman for the rebels
Mr Sabaya and a handful of followers had fled following a shoot-out earlier this month which resulted in the deaths of US hostage Martin Burnham and a Filipina nurse, Ediborah Yap.

The group had been holding the hostages in dense jungles for more than a year. Mr Burnham's wife Gracia survived the gun battle and has returned to the US.

Hostage-taking is the Abu Sayyaf's main activity although its stated aim is the creation of an independent Muslim state in the south of the mainly Christian Philippines.

Abu Sabaya is the group's main spokesman and is notorious for calling local radio stations on his satellite phones to taunt the authorities.

Local media have expressed scepticism about whether Abu Sabaya really is dead. But the military has said his body may have been swept far out to sea or even eaten by sharks.

Mrs Arroyo on Tuesday ordered the military to track down the other leaders of the group, which the US links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

And she called for the creation of more jobs in the southern Philippines where Abu Sayyaf has gained sympathy from Muslims villages, in what is a mainly Christian country.

"Jobless people in those areas are so easily led to follow the siren song of the easy money coming from being hatchet men and accomplices of the terrorist groups," the president said.

See also:

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06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
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29 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
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