ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) -- U.S.-trained troops intensified an offensive to wipe out a Muslim extremist group Saturday after an American and a Filipino hostage died and another American was freed in a rescue mission.
Reinforcements were being sent to aid the 600 infantrymen chasing the Abu Sayyaf rebels now that the group has no more hostages. About 1,000 U.S. soldiers are advising the troops.
"We're now in hot pursuit," said Philippine military Chief of Staff Gen. Roy Cimatu.
Philippine commandos rescued Wichita, Kan., missionary Gracia Burnham, who was shot in the leg. But her husband, Martin Burnham, and Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap were killed during the gunbattle with the rebels.
The body of Martin Burnham arrived Saturday at Kadena Air Base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa while Gracia Burnham remained in the Philippines for medical treatment, said Kadena Tech. Sgt. Adam Johnston. It was unclear when they would return to the United States.
Cimatu said the rebels who fled during the raid included senior commanders, giving the military hope that it can soon crush the group with a decisive battle. Four rebels were killed in the shootout, and troops searching the site found the trademark sunglasses and the backpack of Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya.
"We are on our way to dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism exemplified by this Abu Sayyaf group," Cimatu said Saturday as he promoted the seven low-ranking soldiers wounded in the shootout.
President Bush said Friday he was assured by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that "justice would be done."
The United States has deployed unmanned spy planes along with Green Berets, helicopter pilots and military engineers who are supporting the Filipino troops hunting for the Abu Sayyaf.
The group was discovered near the village of Sirawai, some 40 miles from Basilan Island, where troops had been searching for them for months.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said Americans helped plan the rescue mission but no U.S. troops participated in the raid.
Philippine Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio said the Americans were crucial to the rescue mission. The commandos used U.S. silencers and night vision goggles, and Philippine officers credited U.S. surveillance with leading local troops to the hostages.
"This was only made possible because of the benefits we have derived from the conduct of the exercise," Teodosio said.
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