Philippine soldiers kill two suspected members of radical Musli

Sunday, September 14, 2003

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- Soldiers killed two suspected members of a Muslim extremist group in the southern Philippines early Saturday after storming a camp where they found photographs of Osama bin Laden and a cache of weapons, a military commander said.

The men are believed to have belonged to Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent band notorious for beheadings and kidnappings.

Soldiers seized the weapons and photos, said Maj. Gen. Trifonio Salazar, commander of the army's 1st Infantry Division. They also seized documents in Arabic from the camp in the mountain village of Matalang, outside Sumisip town on Basilan island.

Salazar said he has not seen the documents but field officers reported they were "voluminous" and were going to have them translated.

He said villagers informed the military about the camp. A company of elite Scout Rangers raided the camp early Saturday, he said.

The Philippine military claims the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas have been on the run since the U.S. military conducted a counterterrorism exercise in the southern Philippines last year.

Many of their leaders and members have been killed or captured, but remnants of the group are still scattered, mainly on the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo, their traditional strongholds.

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