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Philippine Forces Up Effort On Rebels

The Philippine military stepped up its attack Sunday on Muslim rebels considered more vulnerable now that they no longer held hostages as human shields.

Two days after a U.S. woman was freed in a rescue mission that killed her husband, the military said that up to 1,800 more troops were joining forces that began attacking the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in the jungles of three southern islands.

"We're now operating with greater intensity," said Maj. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, head of southern Philippine forces. "We will not let them get away with this."

The new offensive began after troops ambushed the rebels Friday on the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Two hostages died during a gun battle: Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap, 45, and 42-year-old missionary Martin Burnham of Wichita, Kan.

Burnham's wife, Gracia, survived the fighting with a bullet wound in her thigh. The 43-year-old woman planned to leave for the United States on Monday morning. Her husband's body has been flown to a U.S. base in Japan.

In Burnham's hometown of Rosehill, Kansas, CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports on the grief the community is suffering. She spoke with Martin Burnham's parents.

"He lived what he spoke. He wanted to help people and he did it," said Paul Burnham of his late son.

Carolina said the rebels were more vulnerable now that they had no hostages. But he said the army was still reluctant to bomb them from the air for fear of hitting pursuing troops.

The three-pronged operation was focusing on the mountainous, jungle-covered islands of Jolo, Basilan and Mindanao. The area is in a 60-mile stretch of the Sulu Sea in the extreme southwest of the Philippines.

On Mindanao, soldiers were hunting Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya, who fled into dense jungle with about 40 men after the army attacked them in Friday's rescue mission. The group has been linked to the international al-Qaida terror network.

Other troops were hunting commander Isnilon Hapilon on Basilan. On Jolo, they were stalking Khaddafy Janjalani, another rebel leader.

"If we get the three, the others will fall," Carolina said.

The Abu Sayyaf forces on Basilan and Mindanao are thought to number less than 100 fighters, down from more than 1,000 a year ago, after steady army attacks. Several hundred more fighters may still inhabit Jolo island.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told reporters that U.S. advisers who are training Philippine troops and planning missions might be upgraded to the company level, putting them closer to the fighting.

"We will have to finish this war because terrorism is a scourge on the Earth," Arroyo said.

About 1,000 U.S. elite troops, pilots, support staff and military engineers are on Basilan and western Mindanao on a six-month training mission.

Their role in the new offensive wasn't immediately clear. The Americans have used surveillance and satellite technology to help the local army, and U.S. pilots and medics have entered combat zones to retrieve and treat Filipino wounded.

The Americans also helped plan Friday's mission to rescue the Burnhams, who were kidnapped May 27 last year from a southwestern resort by Sabaya's men.

Yap, a Basilan native, was kidnapped days later when the men raided a hospital to seize staff and medicine to treat wounded rebels.

On Sunday, a white wooden coffin holding Yap's body was returned to her hometown of Lamitan. A procession of about 100 people in cars, vans and tricycle taxis accompanied the body.

"Finally you are home. We will always remember you," read one streamer held by residents.

Arroyo met Yap's four children, between the ages of 7 and 24, at the presidential palace. Gracia Burnham also wanted to meet the children before she returned to America because Yap nursed the missionaries, Arroyo said.

"Even in captivity, she was doing her duty as a nurse," the president said.

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