Troops kill Friday, 22 Sept 2006, a member of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in a firefight in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where security forces are hunting two Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek, tagged as behind the 2002 Bali bombings. (Jun Batara)
PATIKUL, Jolo Island (Mindanao Examiner / 22 Sept) Government troops clashed Friday with the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya groups, killing one gunman in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, officials said.
Officials said there were no military casualties in the fighting that broke out on a hinterland village in Patikul town.
“Relentless military offensives launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines troops against the Abu Sayyaf group and its Jemaah Islamiyah allies incurred the fatality of one of its member at around 10:30 a.m. in an encounter in Patikul,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, said.
Batara said villagers tipped off the military about the presence of gunmen in the hinterlands. He said the gunmen were consolidating in the hinterlands when soldiers attacked them, triggering a firefight.
“A running gun battle ensued and heavy exchange of gun fires occurred, which resulted into the death of one ASG member,” he said.
Batara said two MG-520 helicopters were sent to provide close air support to ground troops.
The Abu Sayyaf had killed a marine lieutenant and wounded 24 others early this week in a clash with security forces in Patikul town.
The Philippine military said troops were also pursuing two Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek. The Abu Sayyaf, Batara said, is coddling Dulmatin and Patek, blamed by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 mostly Australian holiday-makers.
The United States offered as much as $10 million reward for the capture of Dulmatin and another $1 million bounty for Patek. The U.S. also put up another $5 million for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, its chieftain. President Gloria Arroyo also offered up to P100 million bounties for the capture of senior Abu Sayyaf leaders -- dead or alive.