Wednesday, May 30, 2007

RP, US War Games Starts Off Sulu Archipelago

The USS Harpers Ferry is surrounded by Filipino trawlers off the southern Philippines where some 2,000 U.S. and Philippine troops are to begin Thursday, 31 May 2007, a ten-day joint amphibious warfare called CARAT 2007, Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training, in the Sulu Archipelago, where local security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya. About 6 ships from both countries will participate in the war games. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – The Philippine military on Wednesday tightened security at sea in the restive southern region where some 2,000 U.S. and Filipino troops are to begin a joint amphibious training.

Locals on Wednesday cheered from the sea coast as they waved at the USS Harpers Ferry anchored off Zamboanga City.

The ship is one of three that the United States sent to participate in the ten-day war games called CARAT 2007 or Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training starting on Thursday in the Sulu Archipelago, where local troops are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya.

The ship is being protected by U.S. and Philippine patrol boats. Filipino trawlers were also spotted near the USS Harpers Ferry.

The Philippines is also sending three smaller ships in the war games which will be held off Basilan island.

“There will also be joint medical mission in Zamboanga and Basilan (island),” Ensign Annaleah Palad, spokesperson for the Philippine Navy, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippines is a staunch ally of the United States in the so-called global war on terror. Hundreds of U.S. troops are currently deployed in Zamboanga and Jolo island and other parts of Mindanao to help the Philippine military defeat local terrorist groups, blamed for the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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