Sunday, January 29, 2006

8 Injured In Jolo Drive-by Shooting

Two armored troops carriers patrol the southern Philippine town of Surabay. (Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jan) At least 8 people were injured in a drive-by shooting in the southern island of Jolo, site of a joint anti-terrorism training exercise between the Philippines and the United States, police said Sunday.

Police mounted an intensified hunt for a pair of men, blamed for the Saturday night attack on a crowd gathered outside a mosque in Busbus village.

"At least eight people were wounded in the attack and we are still investigating the motive and who were behind the drive-by shooting," a police investigator told the Zamboanga Journal by phone from Jolo island on Sunday.

He said the two gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd of mostly young worshippers and then sped off disappearing in the dark street near a military camp where US and Philippine troops are to hold the training next month.

It was not immediately known if the attack was connected to the shooting of a military intelligence agent in the area last month, but the village is also a known lair of Abu Sayyaf militants and their supporters.

The Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the spate of attacks and terrorism in the Philippines and has been linked by authorities to the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya network.
Police and military have tightened security in Jolo, about 950 km south of Manila, because of the impending anti-terror drill. Troops have put up checkpoints and roadblocks around the camp, searching weapons and explosives from vehicles that pass near the area.
The Abu Sayyaf has previously threatened to attack US targets in the Philippines.

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