Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2 US soldiers killed in blast in Southern Philippines

The remains of a destroyed US military vehicle after a roadside bombing Tuesday, September 29, 2009 in the southern Philippine island of Sulu. Two US Special Forces soldiers and a Filipino marine were killed in the attack believed carried out by militants. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Nickee Butlangan).

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / September 29, 2009) – Two US soldiers and a Filipino marine were killed in a roadside bombing Tuesday in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr said the blast killed two American soldiers and a Filipino marine in Sulu province. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“We still don’t know who was behind the attack, but two US troops and a Filipino soldier were killed in the roadside bombing,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Police said three more Filipino soldiers were wounded in the attack that targeted the US and Philippine military convoy. Earlier reports said two US American soldiers were also wounded in the blast, but Brawner claimed that only two had died from the attack.

The attack occurred at around 8.30 a.m. in the village of Kagay in Indanan town where local troops are battling Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants since last week.

Security officials did not identify the slain US soldiers, but the wounded Filipino marines are all in critical condition. Other sources in Sulu named the slain Americans as SSG Jack Martin and SFC Christopher Shaw.

Brawner said the US and Filipino troops were on their way to inspect a school project when their vehicles rolled over a landmine.

US Special Forces are deployed in Sulu since 2006 and aiding the Philippine military in defeating the Abu Sayyaf. Although security officials deny US forces were directly involved in combat operations, there were numerous reports from civilians that American soldiers actually participated in the operations aimed at capturing or killing militant leaders in Sulu and other areas in the restive southern region of Mindanao.

A US soldier was also killed and another wounded in a bomb attack at a roadside cafe near an army in Zamboanga City in October 2002.

Major General Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga city, said the US and Filipino troops were in a convoy heading to a school project when the bomb went off.

“The US troops are not involved in the operation against the Abu Sayyaf. They were there because there is a school project in the village,” Dolorfino said in a separate interview.

The wounded troops were rushed to a military hospital in Jolo town, where another bomb exploded at a police post.

There were no reports of casualties in the explosion which occurred at around 10.30 a.m. in the village of Kasanyangan.

Police said an improvised explosive was used in the attack in the village of Kasanyangan, but there were no reports of casualties. “This is the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf. We have tightened security in the villages to prevent future attacks,” said Chief Inspector Usman Pingay, commander of police forces in the capital town of Jolo.

He said the explosion targeted the command post of the Regional Mobile Group. The attack occurred three days after policemen killed an Abu Sayyaf militant, Karim Juldani, and captured another Albashir Adjili, in a firefight in Jolo town.

The two, Pingay said, were trying to sneak into Jolo when policemen stopped them near a checkpoint. He said police seized weapons from the two men.
Pingay ordered additional checkpoints around the town and appealed to citizens to stay vigilant and report to the police or military suspicious persons in their area.

“We must defeat terrorism. Citizens should stay vigilant,” he said.

The attack occurred just as troops continue their operation against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants tagged as behind the series of bomb attacks and kidnappings for ransom in Sulu, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region.

Fighting in Sulu between troops and militants had killed 42 people, including eight marines who were ambushed by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan town last week. Nine soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, accused the military of attacking its forces in Sulu’s Indanan town. It said troops shelled one of its camps, killing two of its members and wounding 8 more.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command denied the accusations and said the offensive targeted the militant groups – the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya – adding, two of its feared terror leaders Mauiya and Quayem are being protected by the Abu Sayyaf.

Madarang Sali, deputy supreme commander of the Bangsamoro National Liberation Front, said military offensive against the MNLF still continues in Sulu. “Up to this time, the military offensive is going on,” he said on Tuesday.

He said government operations were directed as MNLF leader Khaid Ajibun who had escaped a military raid last week. (Mindanao Examiner)

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