A top leader of an Islamic militant group, who is on the United States' list of "Most Wanted Terrorists", has been wounded in military airstrikes, the Philippine defense minister said Saturday.
Isnilon Hapilon was indicted in Washington for his involvement in the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans in the Philippines, and has a $5-million bounty on his head from the US government.
The 50-year-old militant is a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf, a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang based in southern Philippines, and security analysts say the Islamic State group has recognized him as its leader in Southeast Asia.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Hapilon was "seriously wounded" in military air strikes Wednesday in the mountain town of Butig, 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Manila.
“As of (Friday, Hapilon) is still being carried by four men in a makeshift stretcher moving northeast of Butig," Lorenzana told AFP. “Troops are in hot pursuit supported by ground artillery and air support.”
Lorenzana added the military offensive killed four of Hapilon's companions, including an Indonesian he identified as having the alias Mohisen.
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Al-Qaeda, preys on vessels in the waters between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.
Hapilon was involved in the kidnapping of three Americans from a resort in the western Philippine island of Palawan in 2001.*AFP
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