Martin Burnham reportedly executed by Abu Sayyaf as troops opened fire
New Tribes missionary Martin Burnham and Filipina nurse Deborah Yap were killed today in a failed effort to free them from the Muslim guerrilla Abu Sayyaf group. (Update: reports say Yap may still be alive.) Gracia Burnham, who was dressed in military fatigues in an apparent attempt to confuse rescuers, was shot at least eight times in her right leg, but she was freed and is recuperating in a local military hospital. She'll be flown to an American base on Okinawa later today.
The Abu Sayyaf leaders reportedly escaped because of the bad weather.
"The terrorists shall not be allowed to get away with this," said Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. "We shall not stop until the Abu Sayyaf is finished. … I commiserate with the Burnham and Yap families. This has been a long and painful trial for them, for our government, for our country."
Martin Burnham was executed by the guerrillas once the raid began, said Army Scout Rangers Colonel Renato Padua.
Arroyo, who said the soldiers "tried their best to hold their fire for safety," called Martin's parents, Paul and Oreta Burnham, this morning. "The Lord will give us the strength to get through this," Paul Burnham said.
In a message aired over the local radio network, Oreta told Gracia, "We talked to your mom, and we really remember you and are praying for you. We love you very much." The Burnhams' three children have reportedly not yet been told of their father's death. "The other grandparents are going to break the news soon. It's a hard situation. We don't know what our plans are," Oreta said.
New Tribes Mission is also expressing regret. "We are saddened by this tragic news," spokesman Bob Meisel said. "I ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more