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Muslim Rebel Leader in Philippines Killed - 2002-06-21


Military leaders in the Philippines say a top leader of the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebel group was killed in a clash with government troops early Friday.

The military says Abu Sabaya was shot when his boat was attacked by troops off the southern province of Zamboanga del Norte. They say Abu Sabaya was shot after the rebel leader jumped off the boat. The soldier who shot him said said the body sank into the water.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo says navy personnel are searching the waters for the body.

She says several other rebels were killed in the attack and four more were captured. No government troops were reported injured.

Abu Sabaya was a key leader of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, and is believed to be one of the rebel leaders responsible for the kidnapping of an American missionary couple last year. Two weeks ago, government troops rescued the American woman, but her husband and a Philippine nurse were killed in the shootout.

U-S officials have linked the Abu Sayyaf rebel group to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

More than one thousand U-S troops are in the southern Philippines helping to train local forces to combat the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

U-S military officials said American forces provided surveillance and communication help to Philippine troops, but were not directly involved in the attack.

U-S Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld commended Philippines forces for what he called a battle against terrorism and President George Bush praised President Arroyo's leadership.

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