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Philippine police kill suspected militant kidnapper

May 21, 2015

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police have killed a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf group who was allegedly involved in the kidnapping last week of two Malaysians, a military commander said Thursday.

The militant, identified as Mindas Manda, died in a gunfight Wednesday after he refused to surrender when he was cornered in the market of Jolo, the capital of southern Sulu province, said provincial military task force commander Col. Allan Arrojano.

Arrojano said that Manda also was suspected in other kidnappings in Malaysia, which is close to Tawi-Tawi, a province farther south consisting of a cluster of islands close to the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah where Manda had operated.

Malaysian media reports say the families of the kidnap victims — a man and a woman — have received ransom demands.

The two Malaysians were seized by gunmen from a sea food restaurant in Sabah on May 14 and were believed to have been taken to one of the many southern Philippine islands.

The Abu Sayyaf has an estimated 400 members and has had links with al-Qaida. It has turned to ransom kidnappings and extortion to survive following years of setbacks from U.S. military-backed offensives.

The group is still holding a Dutch birdwatcher who was seized in Tawi-Tawi three years ago, and a southern Philippine town mayor abducted from her home last month.

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