WASHINGTON – President Bush said Friday he was assured by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that "justice would be done" to terrorists who kidnapped an American couple, one of whom was killed in a rescue attempt.
And the Pentagon said it would continue efforts to help destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebels through its four-month-old program to advise, train and equip forces fighting the Muslim extremists.
Bush said he talked to Macapagal Arroyo after U.S.-trained troops raided a Philippine hide-out to end a yearlong hostage crisis, freeing the wife but triggering a gun battle that killed her husband and a Filipino hostage.
"She assured me that the Philippine government would hold the terrorist group accountable for how they treated these Americans — that justice would be done," Bush said after a White House meeting with lawmakers to push his homeland security package.
Bush called the Burnhams' family Friday to express his condolences, the White House said. Bush said the Philippine president had called the family as well.
Meanwhile, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said no U.S. troops were directly involved in the raid.
An American defense official said on condition of anonymity that U.S. officials had been aware of the mission, which started nearly two weeks ago, and were consulted on it.
It was unclear when they became aware of it. But Myers said U.S. troops had not helped plan the raid, adding the training given Philippine troops since mid-February was not that specific.
"The training was more general. It was not pointed to hostage rescue," Myers told reporters in Brussels, where he is attending a NATO meeting.
Asked about the future of U.S. military involvement in the Philippines, Myers said Americans will continue forces will continue toward the main objective of destroying the rebels, who have been loosely linked to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.
"For now I don't see any change in that plan," Myers said. "...That task I think is still before us."
In addition to the training and advising, U.S. troops brought high-tech intelligence equipment and skills that officials have said was being used to help Philippine forces trace the rebels.
Martin Burnham, a missionary from Wichita, Kan., was killed by a gunshot during the Friday raid near the town of Siraway, said Gen. Narciso Abaya, the Philippine deputy military chief of staff.
Philippine forces evacuated Gracia Burnham from the raid site to a U.S. military hospital at nearby Camp Navarro in Zamboanga — the base from which American trainers have been operating, defense officials said.
Some 1,200 Americans are in the Philippines — including 160 military advisers who worked on nearby island of Basilan — as well as some trainers, several hundred intelligence and other support troops and some 300 Navy engineers repairing a runway and other infrastructure.
U.S. presence in the Philippines is part of Bush's global terrorism fight and is the largest outside Afghanistan, where an international coalition is pursuing bin Laden's network and former Taliban rulers who had harbored the terrorists.
U.S. military trainers also are in Yemen and Georgia in the name of the counter-terror war.