2 Sayyaf, MNLF Commanders Killed In Jolo Island

August 10, 2007 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Funeral parade in Zamboanga City on Friday Aug.10, 2007 for slain soldiers in Jolo island. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Aug) – Philippine soldiers have killed two sub-leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, including a veteran commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in fierce fighting in the southern island of Jolo, officials said Friday.

Officials said the fighting, which erupted Wednesday, have already killed at least 57 people from both sides and sporadic clashes still continue in at least three towns.

Thousands of villagers have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the battle.

Officials said 26 soldiers were killed and that more than a dozen injured in the clashes in the towns of Parang, Indanan and Maimbung.

Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief, told the Mindanao Examiner that troops killed Marag Asti and Salip Edimar, both sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Troops killed the two Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders in the fighting,” he said, adding the two terrorists were under Radulan Sahiron, one of the most senior Abu Sayyaf leader on the island wanted by the United States and the Philippines for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners and terrorism in the troubled South.

One soldier, Pfc. Abdulhari Bittong, who was wounded in the fighting, said his group also killed a MNLF rebel leader Jahili in the fighting on Thursday in Indanan town.

“We slew MNLF leader Jahili in fierce fighting,” he said Friday from his hospital bed in Zamboanga City.

The bodies of five soldiers have arrived in Zamboanga City on Friday and officials said 14 more are arriving on Saturday by boat. The seven remaining cadavers of Muslim soldiers were buried in Jolo island.

Supnet said they were pursuing Abu Sayyaf gunmen coddling Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek in Jolo island when dozens of militants aided by the MNLF attacked troops on Thursday, sparking daylong clashes.

Jakarta tagged both Dulmatin and Patek as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian holidaymakers.

Army Lieutenant General Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, has ordered the military to step up offensive against the terrorists in Jolo island, where hundreds of U.S. troops are helping local soldiers fight terrorism.

Manila blamed the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya for the series of deadly bombings in the country. The U.S. listed the two groups as foreign terrorist organizations.

While the MNLF, despite signing a peace deal with the Philippine government in September 1996, had attacked troops in Jolo many times in the past. Its chieftain, Nur Misuari, is currently in jail on rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. (Mindanao Examiner)


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