RP Troops Hunt Down MilitantsDecember 1, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
Coffins of slain marines inside the Philippine Navy base in Zamboanga City on Saturday, Dec. 01, 2007. And Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. pins medals to wounded soldiers. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 01, 2007) – Philippine troops on Saturday mounted fresh operations to flush out suspected Jemaah Islamiya militants and rebels blamed for the killing of five marines in the southern province of Sulu.
Four gunmen were killed in Friday’s fighting that left at least eight soldiers wounded in the town of Kalingalan Caluang, said Maj. Gen. Reuben Rafael, chief of military forces in Sulu.
“There is an ongoing operation and we are tracking down the terrorists,” Rafael told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from a forward base near the town.
In Zamboanga City, Marines Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said security forces were pursuing Jemaah Islamiya and Abu Sayyaf militants and a faction of the Moro National Liberation front which he blamed for the death of the six soldiers.
“Our troops encountered rogue MNLF members, backed by JI and Abu Sayyaf and they are now the object of our operations,” Allaga said a news conference Saturday.
The military previously said that Jemaah Islamiya terrorists Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both tagged by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombing, are hiding in the province and being sheltered by the Abu Sayyaf and rogue MNLF members under Khabier Malik.
Allaga said aside from Dulmatin and Patek, other Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terrorists, were involved in the clash. “We have reports about this,” he said without elaborating further.
Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. also arrived in Zamboanga City and visited the wounded soldiers at a hospital inside the base. “I was briefed about the operation in Sulu and there is an operation right now,” he said.
Teodoro spoke with the families of the slain marines at a Catholic chapel inside a naval base here where the coffins of the soldiers were put for viewing.
He also inspected troops in Basilan province before flying back to Manila later in the day. (Mindanao Examiner)