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Dutchman held by IS-linked rebels killed in Philippines: army

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Manila (AFP)

A Dutch birdwatcher held by Islamic State-linked militants was killed Friday during a firefight between his kidnappers and soldiers in the southern Philippines, according to the military, which said he was shot by his captors as he tried to escape.

Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo said that Ewold Horn, who was kidnapped in 2012, was killed by one of his captors during a 90-minute gunbattle in Jolo island.

The account could not be immediately confirmed.

"After an hour and thirty minutes of gunbattle, troops recovered the remains of Horn and that of Mingayan Sahiron, the second wife of the Abu Sayyaf top leader," Pabayo said in a statement.

Neither the Dutch embassy in Manila, nor officials in The Hague provided any immediate comment on the military's account.

Horn was on an expedition to photograph rare birds on the remote Tawi-Tawi island group in the southern Philippines when he was abducted by unknown gunmen and turned over to the Abu Sayyaf.

Horn was seized along with Lorenzo Vinciguerra, a Swiss national who managed to escape in 2014 during a gunbattle between soldiers and his captors.

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, including repeated kidnappings of foreigners who are usually ransomed off for huge amounts.

Philippine officials assert the group was behind the deadly January bombing of a Cathedral during Sunday mass that was the worst attack to hit the nation in years.

The bombing was claimed by the Islamic State, which has worked to maintain a presence in the Philippines as its caliphate crumbled in the Middle East.

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