MANILA: Philippine marines have killed an Abu Sayyaf extremist commander and a notorious kidnapper who had sailed across the sea border into Malaysia to snatch tourists and sailors for ransom, the military chief said Saturday.
Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press that Alhabsy Misaya was slain in a clash with marines late Friday in the jungles between the towns of Indanan and Parang in Sulu province.
He said the body of Alhabsy – one of Malaysia’s most-wanted terrorists – was identified by military officials and captured Abu Sayyaf militants.
Kidnapped Sarawakian, Bernard Then, who was kidnapped from the Ocean King seafood restaurant in Sandakan, was beheaded by Alhabsy’s group in November 2015.
Alhabsy has been blamed for abductions of dozens of Malaysians and Indonesian hostages, including one who was beheaded.
Still on the run are Alhabsy’s comrade Sarip Mura, together with the ageing Radulan Sahiron and Hatib Sawadjaan.
The reports of Alhabsy’s death comes about two weeks after his close ally Muammar Askali @ Abu Rami was killed in central Philippines while planning a major kidnap of tourists in Bogol Island.
“We consider him the most notorious kidnapper from that bandit group and this is a big setback to the Abu Sayyaf,” Ano told the AP by telephone.
Alhabsy had been blamed for the abductions of dozens of Indonesian, Vietnamese and Malaysian crewmen of cargo ships and tugboats plying the busy sea border between the southern Philippines and Malaysia.
He was believed to be holding several abducted Vietnamese sailors in Sulu’s jungles but the hostages were apparently not with him during the clash.
The Philippine military has been undertaking a major offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. The group is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States and the Philippines.