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Freed U.S. hostage wants Philippine captors 'destroyed'

Schilling
Schilling was rescued last Thursday following a military raid on his captors' jungle camp  

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'No peace table'

Heading home

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MANILA, Philippines -- Former U.S. hostage Jeffrey Schilling has begun his journey home from the Philippines saying he wants to see his former captors "destroyed".

Schilling, who was held hostage for nearly eight months by the Islamic separatist Abu Sayyaf group on the southern island of Jolo, was freed last Thursday in a raid by Philippine soldiers on the militants' camp.

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Earlier Abu Sayyaf leaders had threatened to behead their hostage as a birthday present for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Speaking at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Schilling told reporters he wanted to thank President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and defense chief Angelo Reyes for helping to free him.

"I'd like them to continue the efforts against the Abu Sayyaf," Schilling said. "There are groups which can and will be destroyed as long as the operations continue."

Schilling, from Oakland in California, was one of scores of hostages, the majority of whom were tourists visiting nearby Malaysian diving resorts, seized last year by the Abu Sayyaf.

Except for Filipino cook Roland Ullah, who remains in rebel hands, all of the hostages have been freed, most after the reported payment of large ransoms.

'No peace table'

His statement follows comments at the weekend by Arroyo warning that there would be no negotiation with the Abu Sayyaf and other rebel groups who refused to lay down their arms.

"They better beware. There will be no peace table for them," Arroyo said. "The only peace for them is the peace of the graveyard."

"If they want to stay alive," she added, "they should surrender. Otherwise, they will be pulverized."

Abu Sayyaf rebels say they are fighting for Islamic independence in the southern Philippines but Arroyo called them a "kidnap-for-ransom gang."

Heading home

From the Philippines Schilling boarded a flight Monday bound for the Pacific island of Guam.

There he is expected to rest and undergo medical check-ups before flying on to San Francisco.

It is unclear when he plans to return to the U.S. mainland.

Schilling had been held on Jolo since last August after visiting the Abu Sayyaf camp with his wife whose cousin is a spokesman for the militants.

He was found by Philippine soldiers last week barefoot and covered in mosquito bites from months of harsh jungle living.

Schilling, who weighed 250 pounds before being taken hostage, said he lost 100 pounds while in captivity.



RELATED STORIES:
Rescued hostage denies rebel alliance
April 13, 2000
U.S. praise for hostage rescue
April 12, 2001

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