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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

American Hostage Killed in Philippines Shootout

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine president ordered search-and-destroy operations against Muslim guerrillas after an attempt to rescue three hostages resulted in the death of two of them, including a U.S. missionary.

"We will forge on with tenacity until the Abu Sayyaf is finished," President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Saturday, a day after missionary Martin Burnham, 42, was killed and his wife Gracia, 43, rescued by Philippine troops in a gun battle with the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in jungle on southern Mindanao island.

"In the past, the military always had to hold their fire because of the hostages. Now, they can really do a hot pursuit."

Gracia was wounded in the leg but was well enough to move about in a wheelchair. Filipina nurse Deborah Yap, another hostage held captive over a year, was also killed in the clash.

"The president has issued clear orders. The military is now carrying out search and destroy operations versus the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas," National Security Adviser Roilo Golez told a domestic radio station.

Gracia Burnham was flown to Manila from a military base in southern Zamboanga city on Friday and "is looking forward to rejoin her family" in Wichita, Kansas, officials said.

Fresh Philippine troops have been sent into Zamboanga del Norte province on Mindanao where the fighting occurred and military said they were pursuing about 40 Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

"President Bush assured us of the continuing help of the United States in pushing our operations forward," Arroyo said of a telephone conversation with George W. Bush on Friday night.

The grieving Kansas family of Martin Burnham urged the Philippine government to wipe out the rebels who held the couple hostage in the wilderness for one year and 11 days.

"This is a terrorist group that has been hurting the Philippine people for a long time ... we hope they will be able to eradicate this kidnap-for-ransom gang and take care of many of the problems." said Paul Burnham, Martin's father.

The American missionaries, who had lived in the Philippines since 1986, were abducted by the guerrillas on May 27, 2001 -- a day after they went to a beach resort off Palawan island to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary.