Sunday, July 29, 2012

April 19, 2000: Two Philippine Hostages Beheaded. AP

April 19, 2000, AP Online, Two Philippine Hostages Beheaded,
524 words,

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Muslim extremists said Wednesday they had beheaded two hostages because the government has ignored their demands, including the release of suspected Arab terrorists held in jails in the United States.

Abu Ahmad, spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf group, said two teachers, both former soldiers who were among 29 hostages, were beheaded Wednesday in southern Basilan province.

"It is sad to say but that's true," Ahmad said in a radio interview when asked whether the group had carried out its threat.

Ahmad said the group would execute more male captives for every "negative statement" from President Joseph Estrada or the police.

"But we will leave the door open in case the government wants to save the remaining hostages," he said.

Presidential spokesman Ricardo Puno condemned the killings.

"We strongly deplore this act as particularly heinous and ill-timed," Puno said, referring to the start of the Easter holiday in this predominantly Catholic nation.

Ahmad said government negotiators failed to deliver 85 sacks of rice and diesel fuel as promised and Estrada had made no statement that he would talk to U.S. officials about the group's demands.

On Tuesday, Estrada's national security adviser, Alexander Aguirre, said hostage negotiators have been told to reject the "impossible" demands of the rebels, including the release of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, accused of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Tuesday that the United States "will not concede to demands of terrorists" and advised Americans to avoid traveling to Basilan, 550 miles south of Manila.

After attacking an army outpost March 20, the rebels seized more than 50 people from two schools in Basilan for use as human shields for their escape. Some of the hostages have since been freed.

The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller but more radical of two Muslim groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines. It has been blamed for numerous attacks on Christians.

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