Filipina nurse Deborah Yap, held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group since June last year, was married to Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, in Basilan, southern Philippines, a TV report said.

The information came from three young Filipino-Muslims who formerly assisted in the Abu Sayyaf camp. They were placed under the custody of the social welfare department right after their release in November, the TV reported.

Recounting their experience with the Abu Sayyaf leaders in the hinterlands of Basilan, the three said they fetched water and food and watched over two American hostages, Martin and Gracia Burnham.

The American missionaries were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group from Dos Palmas resort in Palawan southwestern Philip-pines in May last year. They were brought to Basilan in June. The Burnhams at that time remained in the custody of Hapilon and Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Sabaya, the children said.

"We carried the arms and ammunition of the Abu Sayyaf Group,"they said, adding, they moved day and night when the group escaped with their hostages to elude pursuing soldiers and policemen in the jungles of Basilan.

Their identities were not revealed for security reason. They said they were not earlier identified when taken by the group right after the group's hostage taking spree in Dos Palmas in Palawan in May, and in Basilan in June.

The children said they were released on November 15 after the Abu Sayyaf Group received $9,803 (P 500,000) ransom payment. They did not say who paid the ransom money. They did not reveal how they learned about the ransom payment.

They were released with the hostages whom they identified as Reina Malonzo, Maria Fe Rosadeno, Angie Montealegre, and Sheila Tabunyag who were taken from Dos Palmas resort.

They also said they were released with Abdulpatta Mohammed, Joel Abellon, Marlon Dagayanon and another farmer who was captured by the group from the Golden Harvest Plantation in Lantawan, Basilan in June.

Meanwhile, a suspected Abu Sayyaf member shot dead a Philippines soldier and wounded another in a public market in southern Jolo island last Friday, the military said in a belated report on Saturday.

The soldiers were shot at while buying food supplies from a local market. They were about to board a naval vessel for redeployment off the island, Major Ernesto Maniego said.

The killer could be a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group, said local army chief Colonel Dominador Macalintal, adding that troops in armoured vehicles were deployed to search for the killers.

The Abu Sayyaf Group stepped up its bombing activities and ambuscades in the public places of Jolo, another stronghold of the hostage-takers.

The other factions of the Abu Sayyaf Group are based in Jolo, apart from nearby Basilan Island where 160 of the 660 U.S. troops were deployed to help train Filipino soldiers fight terrorism since February this year.

The U.S. and Philippine governments have linked the Abu Sayyaf Group to the Al Qaida terror network of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the terror attacks in the U.S. on September 11.