Abu Sayyaf leader gunned down

AN ALLEGED leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group behind the kidnapping of an Australian ex-soldier and an Irish priest was shot dead by securityforces on Sunday, the military said.

Waning Abdusalam was killed after he resisted arrest by a combined military and police team in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay province, said military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan.

The suspect may have had links to the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group known for kidnapping foreigners and Christians, said Tan.

Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz also described the suspect as a renegade commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Abu Sayyaf, founded with seed money from Al- Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

Tan said Waning had been involved in the kidnapping for ransom of numerous people in Mindanao, including several Filipinos as well as Irish missionary Father Michael Sinnott in 2009 and Australian Warren Rodwell in 2011.

While Sinnott was released after about a month through the intercession of a larger Muslim rebel group, Rodwell spent 15 months as a hostage and was only freed after ransom was paid.

Kidnapping for ransom is frequent in the southern Philippines, where Muslim separatist insurgents and bandits have been active for decades.

Early this month, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants holding two Canadians and a Norwegian set a one-month deadline for millions of dollars in ransom to be paid.

In a video posted on a local jihadist group’s Facebook page, the emaciated victims warned they would be killed unless the ransom was paid.

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