Turning Around a Messy Little War

There's a concrete wall behind the Torres Memorial Hospital in the dusty village of Lamitan on the southern Philippine island of Basilan. In the middle of it is a door, only 1.5-meters high. Seven months ago, roughly 60 members of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang led by chieftain Abu Sabaya were barricaded inside with about 20 hostages, including three Americans, definitively surrounded by the Philippine military. Their careers as terrorists seemed to be coming to a bloody conclusion. That is, until the early evening of June 2, in circumstances that are shadowy but undoubtedly scandalous, when the Abu Sayyaf opened...

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