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Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Philippines claims third major Abu Sayyaf success

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The Philippines has made another major arrest of a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in a week, police said.

Mujibar Alih Amon, an alleged logistics officer of the group and wanted in a string of kidnappings and killings, was arrested on Saturday on Jolo Island.

Police say Mr Amon was part of the group that launched a cross-border kidnapping raid on a Malaysian resort.

In the 2000 raid, 21 foreign and Filipino were taken hostage.

Mr Amon, who had a reward of 600,000 pesos ($13,000) on his head, was also wanted for the kidnapping of six Christian missionaries in 2001, two of whom were beheaded.

The arrest came a day before Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad was killed in an assault by Philippines troops on a rebel camp on Jolo, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

And on Thursday last week, police say they arrested another Abu Sayyaf suspect, Jumadail Arad, accused of operating the boat used for the 2000 Malaysian hostage raid.

With the arrests and Parad's killing, national police chief Jesus Verzosa said the authorities were "very positive that the strength and the morale of the group had been drastically reduced".

Small and radical

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for bombings, beheadings and kidnappings of Filipinos and foreigners.

Abu Sayyaf is the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups in the southern Philippines.

Its stated goal is an independent Islamic state in Mindanao and the Sulu islands. The government refuses to hold any form of talks with the rebels.

Philippine officials said in December 2009 that they had arrested an Abu Sayyaf founder - Abdul Basir Latip - who has allegedly been involved in kidnapping foreigners and Christians.

He has also been accused of forging links between Abu Sayyaf and other militant Islamist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qaeda.



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