Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sayyaf attacks troops, torch school in Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 25, 2008) – Abu Sayyaf militants, whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, attacked Thursday government soldiers and torched a school in Sulu island in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the militants attacked marine soldiers in the village of Taglibi in Patikul town at around 12.45 a.m. and later torched the Datu Uddin Bahjin Central Elementary School.

“There were no reports of casualties,” said Lt. Steffani Cacho, a military spokeswoman.

Cacho said troops fought off the attackers, who later retreated under cover of darkness. “These attacks show the traitorous and coward-like character of the Abu Sayyaf, however, the troops’ vigilance have allowed them the upper hand and they were able to drive away the enemies,” she said.

Authorities have tagged the Abu Sayyaf group as behind the spate of kidnappings and bomb attacks across Mindanao. The Abu Sayyaf, which means "The Bearer of the Sword," has been labeled a terrorist organization by both Manila and Washington, and is believed by the US to have links with the al-Qaeda terror network.

Two factions of the Abu Sayyaf are still holding a kidnapped a Chinese trader Xili Wu in Sulu province. Wu was kidnapped Dec. 14 in the capital town of Jolo while he closing his appliances’ store. Another group is holding a nine-year old Filipino girl in Basilan island, south of Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

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