MANILA, Philippines (BP)–Following is a chronology of the Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis in the southern Philippines, which ended June 7 with the deaths of U.S. hostage Martin Burnham and Filipino nurse Deborah Yap.
— May 27, 2001: Abu Sayyaf gunmen raid the Dos Palmas island resort, seize 20 hostages including Martin and Gracia Burnham from Kansas and Peru-born Californian Guillermo Sobero, and flee by boat to their Basilan island stronghold.
— June 29: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo announces she has formally asked the U.S. government to help track down the Abu Sayyaf.
— Aug 3: Thirty-five Filipinos are abducted in Basilan. Ten are beheaded, while the rest escape or are released later, giving the kidnappers more mobility and allowing them to stay a step ahead of 5,000 military pursuers.
— Sept 24: President Bush seeks a global freeze of Abu Sayyaf assets, putting the rebel group on a blacklist with links to Osama bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
— Nov 20: At a meeting with Arroyo in Washington, Bush offers to send troops to help fight the Abu Sayyaf. Arroyo accepts equipment and training assistance.
— Jan 10: U.S. military advisers arrive in the south for a six-month anti-terrorist campaign. The U.S. force builds up to about 1,000, including 160 Special Forces troops and 340 navy engineers and their Marine bodyguards on Basilan.
— March 7: Local television airs video footage of the Burnhams, reading out an Abu Sayyaf statement in front of three hooded gunmen.
— April 25: Burnham’s father reveals the Abu Sayyaf reneged on a secret deal in March to free the Burnhams. The Abu Sayyaf insists the family had dealt with the wrong party, while both the U.S. and Philippine governments deny a ransom had been paid.
— May 1: Kidnappers call off hostage negotiations and threaten to kill the American captives if rescuers get too close.
— May 9: Burnham is reported suffering from malaria as the government says reports that Gracia Burnham is also ill are “reliable.”
— June 3: U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz arrives in southern Basilan island amid calls for President Gloria Arroyo to allow greater American military participation in the joint war against the Abu Sayyaf.
— June 7: Burnham and a Filipina nurse Ediborah Yap were killed in a rescue attempt in the southern Philippines, but Burnham’s wife, Gracia, while wounded, is freed from Abu Sayaf rebels.