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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police dealt a new blow to a notorious al-Qaida-linked group with the arrest of a suspected militant wanted in a string of kidnappings and killings, officials said Thursday.

Mujibar Alih Amon, an alleged logistics officer of the Abu Sayyaf group, took part in the 2000 abduction of American Muslim convert Jeffrey Schilling, who later escaped, and 21 Western tourists and staff of a Malaysian resort earlier that year, national police chief Jesus Verzosa said.

Verzosa handed a 600,000 peso ($13,000) reward to an unidentified civilian informant who led police in a raid on Amon’s hide-out Saturday on southern Jolo Island, a militant stronghold.

In the last six years of U.S.-backed counterterrorism strikes, Philippine security forces have killed or arrested more than 800 suspected militants, including 12 this month alone, said Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor.

The arrest of Amon, 26, came a day before troops killed senior Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad, who was charged with murder and kidnappings, including last year’s abductions of three Red Cross workers.

Security forces last week captured another suspected militant, Jumadali Arad, who was allegedly the driver of a speedboat used to carry dozens of hostages the Abu Sayyaf snatched from a southwestern resort in 2001. They included three Americans, two of whom were later killed.

With the arrests and Parad’s killing, Verzosa said authorities ”are very positive that the strength and the morale of the group has been drastically reduced.”

Read the rest of the AP story at The New York Times.

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Philippine police dealt a new blow to a notorious al-Qaida-linked group…