Philippine troops arrest Muslim militant helping kidnap 20 tourists

Government troops have arrested an Abu Sayyaf rebel accused of helping kidnap 20 tourists and workers, including three Americans, from a Philippine resort in 2001, the military said Monday.

Burham Sali, who was captured Sunday in Parang town in southern Maguindanao province, allegedly helped kidnap the victims from the Dos Palmas resort in western Palawan province, army chief Maj. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said.

One of the Americans, Guillermo Sobero of Corona, California, was beheaded by the militants. American missionary Martin Burnham of Wichita, Kansas, was killed during an army commando rescue attempt a year later in which his wife, Gracia, was wounded and recovered alive.

The kidnapping of the Americans prompted the U.S. military to deploy troops to the southern Philippines to train and arm Filipinos battling the militants.

Esperon said Sali also is suspected of playing a role in the 2000 kidnapping of dozens of students and teachers at a school in Tumahubong town in southern Basilan province. Most of the captives escaped or were freed but some were killed by the militants, reports the AP.

I.L.