Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sayyaf Militant Killed In Jolo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 31 Jan) Government soldiers killed Tuesday a member of the militant group Abu Sayyaf, tied by the authorities to the al-Qaeda terror network, in the island of Jolo, about 950 km south of Manila, a military spokesman said.

The fighting erupted ahead of a joint antiterror training exercise between the United States and the Philippines in Jolo island.

Marine soldiers attacked an Abu Sayyaf group around 6 a.m. in the town of Patikul, a known lair of militants blamed for the series of kidnappings and bombings in the Philippines, said Air Force Major Gamal Hayudini, of the Southern Command.

"One Abu Sayyaf was killed and we have recovered his body. There are no military casualties," Hayudini said, adding, soldiers tracked down the Abu Sayyaf after civilians tipped off the military about the presence of gunmen in the town.

He said security forces were in Patikul and pursuing other Abu Sayyaf members who managed to escape.

The offensive came barely a week after suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed a government soldier in Mauboh village in Patikul town while he was about to meet two civilian informers.

It was unknown if the two unidentified informers helped set up or were involved in the attack, but the town is scene of previous fighting between soldiers and militants.

The military has relied heavily on intelligence provided by civilians and informants about the terrorist group. Many Abu Sayyaf leaders on the island were either arrested or killed with the help of informants in exchange for huge ransom offered by the United States and the Philippine governments.

Washington offered as much as $5 million bounty for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group's leaders and their members dead or alive.

Just recently, Philippine and US military forces in Zamboanga City distributed an updated list of wanted Abu Sayyaf posters in the south, and gave away more than 5,000 bottles of mineral water labeled with photographs and bounty information of terrorist leaders. The US included the group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

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