5 Sayyaf Militants Capured In Southern Philippines

August 19, 2007 at 6:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Families and relatives of slain troops gather Sunday Aug. 19, 2007 at a chapel inside a Philippine Marines base in Zamboanga City. Fifteen soldiers were killed in fierce fighting with Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Basilan island on Saturday. The military says more than 30 gunmen were also killed in the fighting in Ungkaya Pukan town on the island, where a Philippine Air Force MG-520 attack copter crashed also killing its pilot. President Gloria Arroyo ordered a renewed offensive against the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group blamed for the killing of dozens of troops since last month in Basilan and Jolo islands. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Aug) – Philippine troops swooped down Sunday on an Abu Sayyaf hideout and arrested 5 suspected militants in the southern island of Jolo, officials said.

Officials said the five were being interrogated after soldiers seized four automatic weapons in their hideout in Indanan town. It was unknown whether the men were involved in the killing of 27 soldiers this month in Jolo island.

Troops were also pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants in the neighboring island of Basilan, where 15 Marines were killed and 17 others injured in fierce battle in Ungkaya Pukan town. A Philippine Air Force MG520 attack helicopter also crashed Saturday near the town, killing a pilot and seriously injuring the second pilot.

“There have been no reports of armed clashes in Basilan, but our forces are tracking down the Abu Sayyaf responsible in the killing of the Marines,” Maj. Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The bodies of those killed were brought to a small Catholic chapel inside a marine base in Zamboanga City, where families and relatives gathered. The wounded were at a military hospital in Zamboanga City. Their conditions were unknown and journalists had been barred near the hospital.

“It is off limits to the media. We have an order not to allow journalists in the hospital,” one military nurse said.

In Basilan, soldiers pounded with canons suspected Abu Sayyaf strongholds on the island to flush the gunmen out in the open.

About 5,000 soldiers are on the island, south of Zamboanga City, and pursuing the Abu Sayyaf, blamed by Manila for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled region.

The United States, which has sent hundreds of soldiers to help Philippine troops defeat terrorism, offered as much as $5 million reward for the heads of known Abu Sayyaf leaders.

Aside from the Abu Sayyaf, Washington also put up a huge bounty for the capture of Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who are being protected by the Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front insurgents in Jolo island.

The U.S. offered up to $10 million reward for Dulmatin’s capture and another $1 million for Patek, both Indonesians were tagged as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 mostly foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

President Gloria Arroyo ordered security forces to destroy the terrorists and bring peace in the volatile, but mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao.

(Mindanao Examiner)


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