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'Militant leader' killed in Philippines

By Amir Ahmed and Eve Bower, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Six suspected militants killed by marines in Sulu province
  • Military says suspected Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad among dead
  • Parad responsible for last year's abduction of three Red Cross aid workers
  • U.S. says Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf is linked to al Qaeda

(CNN) -- The Philippine marines killed six suspected militants Sunday in an assault in the country's restive southwest, the military said.

A suspected commander of the rebel group, Abu Sayyaf, was among the dead, Philippines military representative Lt. Steffani Cacho told CNN.

Albader Parad played a key role in last year's abduction of workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said CNN affiliate ABS-CBN. All three workers were later released.

Acting on intelligence, the marines launched an attack Sunday on suspected the Abu Sayyaf militants in the early morning hours in the Sulu province.

Abu Sayyaf does not routinely comment on such encounters, and did not immediately confirm the battle or any losses.

ABS-CBN's Web site published what it said were photos of the corpse of Parad. The broadcaster said the photos came from the military.

Abu Sayyaf is one of several Islamic militant groups fighting the Philippine government to establish a separate state for the country's minority Muslim population.

The U.S. State Department considers it a terrorist organization and says it is linked to al Qaeda.

The Philippine government has been fighting to contain the group, which is blamed for several terrorist attacks in the country, including the bombing of a ferry in 2004 that left about 130 people dead.

Army Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino told ABS-CBN that Abu Sayyaf members usually drag their dead, along with their wounded, following clashes.

"We seldom recover enemy body," Dolorfino said. "The mere fact that we recovered six bodies and four firearms, this means that this is a very big accomplishment. This means that we surprised the enemy."