JI Bombers, Sayyaf Terrorists Protected By MNLF, Says RP Military

August 11, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 11 Aug) – The Philippine military has accused the country’s former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front of coddling Jemaah Islamiya bombers, including Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Jolo island.


Troops are pursuing the bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, and leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo island, about 950 kilometers south of the Philippine capital.


But Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief, said MNLF members, whose group signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996, are protecting Dulmatin and Patek and Abu Sayyaf militants. They also attacked government soldiers pursuing the terrorists, sparking fierce clashes since Wednesday in Jolo.


He said Dulmatin and Patek and other Abu Sayyaf terrorists are hiding inside MNLF areas and being shrouded by the peace accord.


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.


Officials said 26 soldiers were killed and that more than a dozen injured in the clashes. “We will pursue the terrorists no matter where they hide or whoever is protecting them,” Supnet told the Mindanao Examiner.


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 – Parang, Indanan and Maimbung.


More government troops arrived Saturday in Jolo island to help more than 4,000 soldiers fighting the terrorists and rebels. At last 10,000 villagers have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the battle, according to the island’s governor Sakur Tan.


Tan has ordered security forces to ensure the safety of the refugees and also social workers delivering humanitarian aids.


“We must ensure the safety of everybody and the security of vital government installations. We don’t want the fighting to escalate in civilian areas,” he said in a separate interview.


Supnet said troops have killed two sub-leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, Marag Asti and Salip Edimar, including a veteran commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in a clash in Jolo.


He said Asti and Edimar were working for Radulan Sahiron, one of the most senior Abu Sayyaf leaders on the island wanted by the United States and the Philippines for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners and terrorism in the troubled South.

“And when we recovered the body of Salip Edimar, we also got his wallet and there was his identification card – he’s a member of the MNLF and his ID card bore the signature of Nur Misuari, the chieftain of the MNLF,” Supnet said.

Misuari is currently in jail on rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. Misuari, disgusted with the peace agreement, fled to Malaysia, but was arrested there and later deported to Manila.


He accused Manila of reneging in the peace deal and for failing to uplift the poor living standards of many Muslims in the South. Under the agreement, the Philippines is to provide a mini-marshal plan and housing and livelihood to tens of thousands of former rebels. (Mindanao Examiner)

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