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Filipino rebel abducts villager, weds her

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JOLO, Philippines (Reuters) — A Muslim rebel leader holding mostly foreign hostages in the southern Philippines has abducted a woman living near the guerrilla camp and married her, local officials said on Friday.

Galib Andang, one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, abducted the woman on Tuesday and married her the same evening after paying a dowry of $7,770 and some jewelry to her family, the officials said.

Andang, also known as Commander Robot, and his men are holding three Malaysians; three French nationals, including a Lebanese-born woman; two Germans; two Finns; two South Africans; and two Filipinos from a group of 21 people kidnapped in Malaysia on April 23.

They were brought to the island of Jolo, 600 miles south of Manila, where the rebels have hideouts in the hills. The woman Andang abducted this week was living in a village near one of the hideouts, the local officials said.

They said it was the third marriage for Andang, 38. His new wife is in her early 20s, the officials said.

Six Malaysians and a German woman from among the hostages have been released but last month the rebels also detained a three-member French television crew.

Three other journalists detained, a German and a Filipino couple, have been set free. Local officials say huge ransoms have been paid for those released and the Philippine military chief has said the rebels may have amassed some $5.5 million.

The local officials also said there was still no word on the fate of 13 Filipino evangelists who fasted and prayed at the rebel hideout for 40 days in an effort to secure the release of the hostages.

The fasting period ended on Wednesday, but there was no word if the rebels would allow the preachers to come down from the hills.