Sayyafs, Insurgents Split In Jolo Island

August 17, 2007 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Aug) – Filipino troops on Friday continue searching for hundreds of Abu Sayyaf gunmen and insurgents blamed for the killing of 27 soldiers in Jolo island.

Thousands of civilians have fled their homes on the island after fierce fighting broke out between security and Abu Sayyaf forces, backed by Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

The two groups were said to be coddling two Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek tagged as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 mostly tourists, including 88 Australians.

“Pursuit operations are going on. The terrorists have fragmented into smaller groups and security forces are tracking them in the hinterlands the past days. Rain or shine we will pursue them without letup,” Maj. Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Dulmatin and an Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail, also known as Dr Abu, were said to be wounded in last week’s fighting in Jolo island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the reports were unconfirmed. “We are trying to verify the information and it is really difficult to say that Dulmatin was wounded or Jumdail is injured in the fighting, unless of course if we capture somebody from the Abu Sayyaf and tell us that the report is true,” he said.

Fighting erupted in Jolo island after Abu Sayyaf gunmen, backed by MNLF soldiers, attacked a military convoy on their way to get supplies near Maimbung town and subsequent clashes spread to two other towns.

More than 5,000 soldiers are hunting down several hundred gunmen, including Dulmatin and Patek, who were training the Abu Sayyaf in making homemade bombs.

The United States has sent hundreds of soldiers in southern Philippines to assist and advice the local military in fighting terrorism. Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed in Jolo island the past two years. (Mindanao Examiner)


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