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Philippine police kill 7 kidnappers and rescue victim

Philippine police killed seven members of a kidnap gang and rescued a captive unharmed less than 24 hours after his abduction near Manila, officials said today.

A special police anti-kidnapping unit killed three suspects in a raid on their hide-out late last night in Cabuyao township of Laguna province where the gang held 29-year-old businessman Jefferson Ching, said unit chief Isagani Nerez.

In a second clash early today, pursuing officers killed four more gang members who had escaped to Imus township in neighboring Cavite province, said Nerez, who heads the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response unit.

The kidnappers had seized Ching in another Cavite town on Friday. His family informed police who traced the kidnappers' hide-out from a call made to the family demanding 20 million pesos ($21,000) in ransom, said regional police commander Perfecto Palad.

Kidnap gangs plagued the Philippines in the 1990s, targeting mostly wealthy Chinese-Filipinos. Such crimes persist, but a tough police anti-kidnapping campaign, backed by sophisticated surveillance and better cooperation from victims' families, has led to a decline.