Militant group leader killed in the Philippines

Philippines troops have killed a senior leader of the al-Qa'ida-linked Abu Sayyaf group blamed for kidnappings and bombings on a remote southern island.

Albader Parad and five colleagues were killed in a gunbattle with Marine troops in a forested area at the foot of Mount Tucay on the remote southern island of Jolo, Lieutenant-General Ben Dolorfino told reporters.

"We have confirmed that one of the six bodies found belonged to Albader Parad as confirmed by independent civilian sources," Dolorfino said in text messages to reporters. "We consider it a big blow to the cause of Islamic militants in the south."

Dolorfino said one soldier was killed and two were slightly wounded during the brief gunbattle. Several rebels were also wounded.

Parad, who was on the US State Department terrorist list, was the leader of Islamic rebels who kidnapped three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Jolo in January 2009.

Parad was running the militant group's day-to-day operations on Jolo, planning kidnappings and bombing activities to raise funds for Abu Sayyaf, an army spokesman said. The flamboyant militant leader was also the group's spokesman.

He was first involved in cross-border kidnapping in 2000 when Abu Sayyaf rebels abducted 20 Western tourists and Malaysian resort workers on Sipadan island near eastern Malaysia's Sabah state. All were released after paying ransom.

Dolorfino said troops had been tracking Parad's movements after getting tips from local residents near Indanan town on Saturday, and caught up with Parad's group early yesterday.