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2 Abu Sayyaf-linked kidnap gang leaders killed in Sulu operation

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Two leaders of a kidnap gang linked to the Abu Sayyaf and tagged in the cross-border kidnapping of Indonesians and Malaysians were killed in a military operation in an island town off Sulu at dawn Tuesday.
 
The military identified the slain suspects as Nixon Muktadil and his brother Brown, leaders of the Muktadil Brothers.
 
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said troopers from Joint Task Force Sulu and volunteers from Panglima Estino town, launched the strike against the group in the vicinity of Tambulian Island in the municipality of Pata Island Municipality early Tuesday.
 
“The two Muktadil brothers are the leaders and the architect and expert navigators conducting the kidnappings of foreign nationals in the border of Malaysia,” Tan said.
 
The Muktadil brothers are believed involved in a series of kidnappings of 26 Indonesians and Malaysians in the high seas between the boundaries of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines since early this year.
 
The kidnap victims were crewmen of five different tugboats that the group attacked in the span of six months.
 
The Muktadil brothers turned over their captives to the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu in exchange for money.
 
The Abu Sayyaf militants have so far freed 14 of the Indonesians and Malaysians they hold captive for ransom.
 
The military said the Abu Sayyaf group still holds at least six more Indonesians and five Malaysians, including a Dutch national, and four Filipino hostages all in Sulu.
 
“The death of the Muktadil brothers is a major blow to the group of ASG Sub-Leader Alhabsy Misaya because they serve as the sea guides and navigators during conduct of kidnapping at the high seas,” Tan said.
 
Tan said the remains of the slain suspects are to be transported to the Sulu Provincial Police Office in Jolo, Sulu for proper burial according to Muslim rites.
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