Malaysia po­lice kill key Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tant in shootout

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Malaysian se­cu­rity forces have killed a key mem­ber of a Philip­pine Is­lamist mil­i­tant group in a shootout in wa­ters off Sabah in Bor­neo, the Philip­pine mil­i­tary said yes­ter­day. Abu Sayyaf leader, Abra­ham Hamid, had led the kid­nap­ping of sev­eral for­eign­ers from a tourist re­sort in the volatile south­ern Philip­pines last year, two of whom were later be­headed.

“The death of Hamid is a big blow to the (Abu Sayyaf ) as it neu­tral­ized one of the no­to­ri­ous ban­dits and will de­grade their ca­pa­bil­ity for spot­ting and kid­nap­ping vic­tims in the fu­ture,” said re­gional mil­i­tary spokesman Ma­jor File­mon Tan. Two other mil­i­tants were killed along­side Hamid in the shootout with Malaysian po­lice in La­had Datu in east­ern Sabah, he said.

The Abu Sayyaf be­headed two Cana­dian hostages af­ter de­mands for mil­lions of dol­lars were not met, but re­leased two others, a Nor­we­gian and Filip­ina, af­ter ran­soms were be­lieved to be paid. Tan said Hamid had also been in­volved in the kid­nap­ping of four In­done­sian crew­men in April. There have been a spate of kid­nap­pings of Malaysian and In­done­sian sailors at sea in re­cent months that have been blamed on the Abu Sayyaf.

While Hamid and two mil­i­tants were killed, Sabah se­cu­rity forces have ar­rested two others, Tan added. Sabah po­lice chief Ab­dul Rashid Harun told AFP the in­ci­dent was the Malaysian au­thor­i­ties’ first di­rect con­fronta­tion with sus­pected kid­nap­pers in the wa­ters off east­ern Sabah. On his blog, Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak praised his se­cu­rity forces and said Kuala Lumpur and Manila would co­op­er­ate to fight the re­cur­ring kid­nap­pings. The Abu Sayyaf, a loose net­work of mil­i­tants based on re­mote is­lands in the south­ern Philip­pines, has de­fied more than a decade of mil­i­tary of­fen­sives. The group was formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda net­work, but has been on a lu­cra­tive kid­nap­ping spree in re­cent years. — AFP

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