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Two Abu Sayyaf militants killed in S. Philippines raid

MANILA -- Police commandos stormed a southern Philippine hideout of suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists blamed for kidnappings and extortion, triggering a firefight that led to the killing of two militants and the capture of six others, officials said.

Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas, director of the national police Special Action Force, said his men raided a house Monday in Zamboanga City where an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and his followers were believed hiding.

A policeman was wounded in the clash the ensued, while three suspected militants were arrested, he added in his report to National Police chief Alan Purisima. Four pistols and three grenades were recovered at the site.

Three other suspected militants were arrested in a follow up operation in the city, Napenas said. All six arrested men were taken to the police headquarters in Zamboanga City for interrogation.

On Sunday, security forces also captured a wanted Abu Sayyaf gunman during an operation on Basilan province, near Zamboanga City. A day earlier, Philippine marines patrolling a wooded area near a hill in southern Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town stumbled on about 30 Abu Sayyaf fighters. An ensuing 30-minute clash killed one militant and wounded an unknown number of other gunmen, marine brigade commander Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto said.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for beheadings and deadly bombings, has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization. It is one of at least three armed Islamic groups outside of a peace deal the government signed last month with the main insurgent group in the south, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

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