Asia

Filipino troops kill notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnapper in clash

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.

Military chief 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 Misaya's body was identified by captured Abu Sayyaf militants.

Misaya has been blamed for abductions of dozens of Malaysians and Indonesian hostages, including one who was beheaded.

"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.

Misaya 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.

A kidnapped Malaysian man was beheaded by Misaya's group in November 2015.

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.