Muslim Missionary Decapitated In Southern Philippine Island

July 18, 2007 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A hearse carrying the bodies of two marine soldiers killed by Abu Sayyaf militants tied to al-Qaeda terror network in Jolo island passes. Troops are pursuing Abu Sayyaf leaders and two Jemaah Islamiya Bali bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek in Jolo island, about 950 kms south of Manila. And Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon answers questions from reporters inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City also on Wednesday. Gen. Esperon on Wednesday orders more troops in Basilan island to pursue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels behind the killing of 14 marines soldiers, ten of them beheaded, in an attack last week. Gen. Cedo has given a one week ultimatum for the MILF, which is negotiating peace with Manila, to surrender the rebels behind the killing. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jul) – A Muslim missionary, who provided information to the Philippine military about terrorists, was found dead and mutilated in the southern island of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said the preacher’s body was chopped into several pieces when found by civilians inside a sack in the village of Balagtasan in Lamitan town.

“We condemn the killing and authorities are now hunting the culprits behind the gruesome murder of the Tabliq,” Marine Colonel Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Ramiro said the victim had provided information to the military about the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and lawless elements in Basilan.

“Villagers, including the tabliq, are helping us and providing intelligence about terrorists and lawless groups in Basilan,” he said without further elaborating.

Last week, Abu Sayyaf militants also killed a Muslim preacher in Basilan’s Al-Barka town on suspicion he was passing information to military authorities about a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi.

But the MILF said the soldiers were behind the killing of the preacher, an accusation strongly denied by the military, saying, the Muslim tipped off soldiers about Bossi’s location in Al-Barka town.

Bossi, kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was earlier reported being held by the Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Al-Barka town.

It was also in the town where MILF rebels attacked and killed 14 marine soldiers searching for the 57-year old clergy from Milan. Ten of those killed were beheaded.

Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday said they have given the MILF one week to surrender those responsible in the killing of the soldiers.

Esperon he ordered troops to pursue the culprits if the MILF fails to yield those behind the beheading. “This is not a time for revenge, but a time to punish those responsible in the barbaric act,” he said.

The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said it will not surrender any of its fighters.

Mohager Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, said his group will not surrender any of its fighters. “The fighting between government soldiers and MILF forces in Basilan was a legitimate encounter. We will not surrender any of our fighters. We will not give in to the demands of the Philippine government. We are ready to defend our selves and that is our right,” he said.

Iqbal said the military already violated the cease-fire when soldiers went inside MILF stronghold in Al-Barka town.

Sattar Alih, head of the MILF cease-fire monitoring team in Basilan island, said rebel forces withdrew from the battle scene, leaving the bodies of soldiers behind, after military and rebels agreed to a cease-fire.

It was unknown who were behind the decapitation, but intelligence sources in Basilan have implicated unnamed politicians who allegedly supplied the Abu Sayyaf and with mortar rockets, weapons and munitions during the fighting.

Their private armies also fought against the military forces side-by-side with the MILF and that two gunmen had died in the skirmishes. The military is now investigating the reports.

Peace talks were stalled since last year after MILF, which is fighting for a separate Muslim homeland, rejected a government proposal for a limited autonomy.

Esperon said: “We are determined to punish those who perpetrated these inhuman and barbaric acts. These are not in the ambit of the peace process anymore. And offensive operation is the last option here.”

Philippine authorities tagged Akiddin Abdusallam, a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as mastermind in Bossi’s kidnapping.

Abdusallam was also implicated in many kidnappings-for-ransom in the South.

But the MILF said Abdusallam was kicked out long time ago because of his criminal past and has joined the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Esperon, who was in Zamboanga City, held a conference with senior military and police commanders inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters.

He said hundreds of soldiers are on their way in Basilan to help in the hunt for terrorists and search for Bossi. “We have reports that Father Bossi is in Basilan and there will be no let-up in the operation in recovering Father Bossi and we assure you that,” he said.

Early this month, three undated photographs of Bossi in captivity were sent through cell phone to his friend, Spanish priest Angel Calvo, in Zamboanga City. The military said a former Basilan town mayor was the source of the photos. It was unclear how the former official was able to get the photos. (With a report from Juan Magtanggol)

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