REBELS RULE OUT NEGOTIATIONS, THREATEN TO KILL U-S MISSIONARIES - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

05/02/02 - Manila, Philippines

REBELS RULE OUT NEGOTIATIONS, THREATEN TO KILL U-S MISSIONARIES

The leader of a Muslim rebel group says its members will kill American missionaries Martin and Gracia (GRAY'-shuh) Burnham if Philippine forces backed by U-S troops gain the upper hand.

In a phone call to Radio Mindanao Network, rebel leader Abu Sabaya also declared: "The door is closed for negotiations." He adds, "It's up to them if they want to look for the dead bodies." Asked if that meant the Burnhams will be killed, Sabaya said: "If we see that the fight is getting one-sided, maybe we will just say goodbye to these two."

But the Abu Sayyaf leader said he'd rather prolong the Burnhams' captivity to highlight the impotence of U-S and Philippine forces.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Our heart goes out to the Burnhams." But he said the Philippine constitution bars U-S forces from playing a more direct role in efforts to rescue the missionary couple.

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