Military hopeful about American hostages

Spokesman says rescue is planned in Philippines

March 10, 2002|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine armed forces, with U.S. assistance, have determined the general location of two American hostages being held by Islamic militants on the southern island of Basilan and are ready to launch operations to free them, the country's chief military spokesman says.

Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said he expects American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham to be seen soon, now that U.S. military personnel and high-technology surveillance and communications equipment have arrived on the island.

"Maybe in the next few days," he said. "We have a good idea of the general location of the Burnhams. We're now awaiting the results of our latest initiatives."

The Abu Sayyaf extremist group also holds a third hostage, a Philippine nurse named Deborah Yap who was seized from a local hospital in Basilan a few days after the Burnhams' abduction in May.

Senior U.S. officials have linked Abu Sayyaf to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

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