Philippines: Timeline

1991 The Abu Sayyaf group emerges in the Philippines, ostensibly to support the generations-long battle for an independent Muslim state in the southern islands. The group, led by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, an Islamic preacher from the Philippines island of Basilan who fought in the war to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan, espouses a more conservative religious ideology than the country's leading Muslim separatist group, the MNLF. Abu Sayyaf launches a string of kidnappings, killings and attacks on Christian and government targets. Authorities soon will claim the Abu Sayyaf attacks are becoming less about ideology and more about financial gain.

June 1991 Mount Pinatubo, on the heavily populated Philippine island of Luzon, erupts after three decades of dormancy, killing hundreds of people and leaving nearly a half-million temporarily homeless.

Apr. 4, 1995 Abu Sayyaf members are blamed for massacring 52 villagers in the small southern Philippine town of Ipil, which is largely Christian, and terrorizing others.

1996 The MNLF and its leader, Nur Misuari, agree to a peace deal with the government after decades of violent rebellion. However, a splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rejects the agreement and continues to fight. Both groups say they are unaffiliated with the smaller, but more radical, Abu Sayyaf group.

Dec. 19, 1998 Abu Sayyaf leader Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani is killed in a gunfight with authorities.

April 2000 Abu Sayyaf kidnaps 21 people, including 10 Westerners, from a resort on the Malaysian island of Sipadan.

August 2000 Abu Sayyaf abducts Jeffrey Schilling, a U.S. citizen.

Jan. 20, 2001 President Joseph Estrada is removed from office amid allegations of corruption. He is replaced by his vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

April 2001 Jeffrey Schilling, an American held hostage by Abu Sayyaf, is released.

May 1, 2001 About 50,000 supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada stage a failed attempt to storm the presidential palace in Manila.

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