Philippine Troops Rescue 5 Kidnapped Workers From Muslim Guerrillas

Philippine troops have rescued five employees of a logging company who were kidnapped by suspected Muslim guerrillas in the country's south last week, the military said Sunday.

The five employees, including a woman, were seized Wednesday by eight guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Kapai township in Lanao del Sur province, military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said. Army troops and police rescued the victims Saturday near Kapai without a fire fight, he said.

A local mayor helped the troops locate the hostages, who were moved from one rebel hide-out to another to evade the military, Brawner said, adding that government forces were pursuing the kidnappers.

Brawner identified the leader of the kidnappers as Basit Kauyag.

Rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said he was not sure if Kauyag was a member of the guerrilla front, but that it would investigate Brawner's allegation.

The Philippine military has cracked down on kidnappings in the south, which are mostly blamed on the smaller but more violent Abu Sayyaf group, fearing ransom payments could be used to finance terrorist attacks.