US Officials Visit Wounded Troops In South RP, Ban Media Coverage

July 16, 2007 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


US soldiers guard outside a Philippine military hospital in Zamboanga City where US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and senior US military officials visit Monday July 16, 2007 nine soldiers who are wounded in clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants and Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Basilan island, where a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi is believed being held by rogue MILF members. US officials have banned Filipino journalists and news photographers from covering Kenney’s visit for a still unknown reason. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) 14, assigned to the “Swift Intruders” of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, comes ashore Wednesday July 11, 2007 to pick up Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 and Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 at the completion of their mission in the Philippines. Members of NMCB-7 and ACB-1, with medical support from the Third Medical Battalion, worked together with Filipino Seabees from the First Construction Battalion in support of Pacific Partnership 2007. The mission, a four-month humanitarian assistance mission to Southeast Asia and Oceania includes specialized medical care and various construction and engineering projects.(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul D. Williams)

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 16 Jul) – US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and senior American military officials on Monday visited nine Filipino soldiers wounded in clashes with Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Zamboanga City.

Kenney arrived onboard a bullet-proof van at a military hospital inside Western Mindanao Command headquarters where the soldiers are recuperating from bullet wounds in clashes that occurred July 10 in Basilan’s Al-Barka town.

Fourteen soldiers were also killed in the fighting, ten of them beheaded and mutilated.
Kenney did not give any statement and journalists and photographers were banned in the hospital on orders from US officials for a still unknown reason.

The US is helping the Philippines defeat terrorism and have deployed hundreds of American troops in the volatile region, where local military is battling Abu Sayyaf militants tied to al-Qaeda terror network and members of the Jemaah Islamiya.

Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, Western Mindanao Command chief, was quoted Monday by The Australian as saying that his group is close to capturing Jemaah Islamiya explosives expert Dulmatin after an informant contacted the military offering to surrender the 2002 Bali bombing mastermind.

Aside from Dulmatin, troops are also tracking down another Bali bomber Umar Patek, who is being coddled by the Abu Sayyaf group.

Cedo said he received a message last week from a member of the former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front, who promised he could lead government soldiers to Dulmatin’s hideout in Jolo island, about 950 km south of Manila. “I think we have a good prospect of finding him,” Cedo said. “I received this message saying Dulmatin would be surrendered to us.”

He said the informant had even pinpointed the precise location of Dulmatin’s lair in Jolo island.

The US has offered a $10 million bounty for Dulmatin’s capture and $1 million for Patek’s head. The Bali bombings killed 202 people, mostly foreigners, including 88 Australian holiday-makers.

The Philippine military, backed by US intelligence, mounted new offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists began on Jolo island.

In many instances, villagers reported seeing heavily armed US soldiers in armored vehicles, with Filipino troops.

The offensive, codenamed Oplan: Ultimatum 2, is aimed at capturing – dead or alive – leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and the two Jemaah Islamiya bombers. Indonesian authorities also tagged the Jemaah Islamiya as behind the 2003 JW Marriott hotel car bombing that killed a dozen people and wounded over 150 others.

Hundreds of US troops are also deployed in Jolo to help the local military fight the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya.

The US military provides technical intelligence to local troops because they are not allowed to participate in combat operation against the Abu Sayyaf or Jemaah Islamiya, both included in the US terror list.

Last month, the US 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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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