MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine authorities have arrested a suspected Muslim militant accusing of kidnapping two European bird-watchers last year.
Police spokesman Reuben Theodore Sindac said Thursday that the suspect, Haik Asgali, was arrested in Sulu province in a joint police and military operation.
Sindac says Asgali's team kidnapped Dutch Ewold Horn and Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra while they were on a bird-watching trip in southern Tawi Tawi province in February 2012.
The militants from the Abu Sayyaf group are holding for ransom more than a dozen captives. U.S.-backed military offensives have crippled the group in recent years but it remains a key security threat.
Sindac says Asgali is a trusted operative of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron, one of the most wanted terrorist suspects in the country.