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Philippine troops kill leading Abu Sayyaf member

Written by: Staff
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MANILA, Apr 11 (Reuters) Philippine soldiers killed a leader of Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf wanted for a series of fatal bombings, including an attack which killed a US soldier in 2002, the army today said.

Soldiers killed Amilhamja Ajijul and a relative, also an Abu Sayyaf member, in a pre-dawn raid on a coastal village in the southern city of Zamboanga, Colonel Edgardo Gidaya told reporters.

Four other Abu Sayyaf members were arrested, Gidaya said.

Ajijul had a 20,000 dollars bounty on his head from the United States for his alleged participation in a bomb attack near a military camp in October 2002, which killed a US soldier.

Ajijul was also wanted for his suspected involvement in a bombing that killed about six and wounded more than 140 in a department store in Zamboanga in October 2002.

Military troops recovered two .45-caliber pistols, a jungle knife, mobile phones and various documents from the militants, Gidaya said.

The Abu Sayyaf has links to the regional militant network Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaeda and is blamed for the Philippines' worst terror attack, the bombing of a ferry near Manila in February 2004, that killed more than 100.

The group, which has a membership of around 400 and is on Washington's blacklist of terror organisations, has also kidnapped and beheaded foreign and Filipino tourists and church workers.

The mainly Roman Catholic Philippines is fighting insurgencies by communist guerrillas and Islamic separatists in its southern region.

REUTERS SB BS1032

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