Abductor Arrested In Zamboanga

Feb 13, 2003 02:32 PM EST

Philippines - The local police of Zamboanga reported Tuesday that one of the Muslim guerrilla who held captive the American Christian missionary Martin Burnham was arrested Saturday.

Southern Command chief Lt. Gen. Narciso Abaya said Hussein Abdulmanan, a member of the Abu Sayyaf gang, is one of the guards that kept Martin Burnham in Zamboanga del Norte province last year, shortly before he was slain by the rebels during a rescue attempt by the Philippine military.

Abaya said the captured rebel had admitted guarding Burnham and fighting off the rescuers but did not say if the suspect had any role in the American’s murder.

Abdulmanan had a P1-million bounty on his head. Abaya did not disclose details of his arrest.

Martin Burnham and his wife and fellow missionary Gracia, together with a group of tourists, were kidnapped from a resort in Palawan in May 2001.

The Burnhams were kidnapped May 27, 2001, while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island. Rebels from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) seized several more guests, including another American, Guillermo Sobero, and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.

Early in the ordeal, the Philippine military surrounded the hostages and their kidnappers, who had holed up in a hospital, but the ASG escaped with more hostages, including Filipina nurse Deborah Yap. In the ensuing months, Mr. Sobero's body was found. Other hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and Ms. Yap remained in captivity.

In the same month, a Philippine television network broadcast a video clip of the Burnhams. Martin's considerable weight loss and the couple's emotional fatigue were evident. Nonetheless, released hostages reported that Martin and Gracia's faith and hope in Christ was evident and encouraging.

On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed. Gracia was wounded, but was freed. Deborah Yap was also killed in the battle.

For the past years, the Abu Sayyaf group has been kidnapping foreigners and Christians and holding them for ransom in the southern Philippines.

At present, the group is still holding three Indonesian seamen and four Filipina preachers hostage on the southern island of Jolo.

By Y.Hilado, ChToday Philippines
[email protected]