RP Military Starts Anti-Terror Campaign In Jolo Island

July 1, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Filipino troops, backed by US forces, launch a new offensive Sunday, July 01, 2007, dubbed Oplan: Ultimatum II, in an effort to capture — dead or alive — Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek and leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for kidnappings of four US citizens and other foreigners in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 01 Jul) – The Philippine military on Sunday deployed more troops as new offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists began on Jolo island.

Hundreds of troops, backed by armored personnel carries, were spotted heading to areas where the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists are believed to be hiding.

In several instances, villagers reported seeing on Saturday heavily armed U.S. soldiers in armored vehicles, with Filipino troops.

Filipino military officials said the offensive is aimed at capturing – dead or alive – leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and two JI militants – Dulmatin and Umar Patek – tagged as behind the deadly Bali island bombings in 2002. More than 200 people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the bombings.

Indonesian authorities also tagged the JI as behind the 2003 JW Marriott hotel car bombing that killed a dozen people and wounded over 150 others.

Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the codename of the new anti-campaign is called Oplan: Ultimatum II.

Cedo said troops will also embark on a massive humanitarian mission on Jolo island in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the locals.

“The operation is not only about fighting the terrorists. This is also a fight to win the hearts and minds of the civilians,” he said. “We want to transform Sulu into a place where everybody can live peacefully and with out fear.”

Cedo said the military will coordinate with the island’s new governor, Sakur Tan, in the campaign to rid Jolo of terrorists. Tan is one of few government officials in Jolo island that has publicly condemned the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are also deployed in Jolo island, on the request of the Philippine government, to help the local military fight terrorism.

The U.S. military is only providing technical intelligence to the Filipino troops because American soldiers are not allowed to participate in combat operation against the Abu Sayyaf.

Tan said he would ask for a security briefing with the Philippine military. “I need to be briefed about the operation against the terrorists. We don’t want terrorists in our place,” he told reporters in Jolo island.

He said he would also hold a meeting with U.S. security officials about the presence of American troops and their role in the war against local terrorism and Washington’s humanitarian efforts on the island.

Last week, the U.S. Pacific commander, Adm. Timothy Keating, in a surprised visit in Jolo island, inspected a captured Abu Sayyaf mountain base in Tugas village in Patikul town.

Both the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya are included in the U.S. terror list and Washington offered as much as ten million dollars for the capture of Dulmatin and five million dollars bounty for known local terror leaders. (Juan Magtanggol)

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