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Soldiers kill two militants in Philippine south

Written by: Staff
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MANILA, June 21 (Reuters) Philippine security forces killed two Islamic militants suspected of involvement in a series of kidnappings since 2000 and in the murder of a Roman Catholic bishop, an army general said today.

Lieutenant-General Eugenio Cedo said a team of US-trained troops was led by an informer to the hideout of Anni Sailani and his brother Iting on Basilan island in the south yesterday.

''They chose to shoot it out with our troops,'' Cedo told reporters. ''We surprised them and gave them a chance to give up, but they tried to shoot their way out.'' Cedo said the Sailani brothers, each carrying a bounty of 21,700 dollars, were believed to be senior members of the Abu Sayyaf, the deadliest Islamic militant group in the Philippines.

The Sailani brothers were arrested and jailed in the late 1990s for the killing of Benjamin de Jesus, the Roman Catholic bishop of Jolo island, near Basilan.

But they escaped and helped carry out the kidnappings of 21 foreign tourists and resort workers from Malaysia in April 2000.

They were also blamed for the abduction of the owners of a bakery and a drugstore in downtown Jolo in 2006.

Abu Sayyaf, suspected to have links with al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah, was blamed for the country's worst militant attack, the 2004 bombing of a ferry near Manila bay that killed more than 100 people.

REUTERS LPB RN1416

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