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Muslim rebel group says al-Qaida-linked gunmen refuse to free foreign hostages in Philippines

A Muslim rebel group says al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf gunmen have refused to free foreign hostages after two weeks of negotiations but the Abu Sayyaf won't take any immediate or drastic steps that could harm the captives.

Moro National Liberation Front commander Khabir Malik said Monday that he met an Abu Sayyaf militant, Jul-Asman Sawadjaan, over the weekend to seek the release of a Jordanian journalist and other foreign and local hostages held in the jungle of southern Sulu province's Patikul town but the extremists refused and gave no indication when they would free their captives

Moro National Liberation Front rebels, who signed a 1996 autonomy deal with the government, have encamped near the Abu Sayyaf's jungle lairs in Patikul for two weeks to demand that the extremists free their captives.