Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Security forces repulse Sayyaf attack on main military base in South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 7, 2009) – Philippine security forces repulsed an attack by al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants on a major military base in the southern province of Sulu where US troops are stationed. There were no reports of casualties in the fighting, officials said Wednesday.

The militants fired one round of mortar bomb and hitting the end of runway of the airport in the capital town of Jolo as they flee from pursuing soldiers and policemen late Tuesday.

Six more mortar bombs left behind by militants had been recovered the next morning by troops outside the Camp Teodolfo Bautista, where US counterterrorism soldiers put up a forward operating base. US troops have been stationed in Sulu since 2006 and aiding the local military in defeating the Abu Sayyaf.

“Abu Sayyaf bandits again tried to harass the Marines in Sulu, but they were beaten back. While trying to get near Camp Bautista, the bandits ran smack into the defensive positions of the 6th and 7th Regional Mobile Group of the Philippine National Police.”

“Unable to approach the Marine base, they fired one 60mm mortar round and hitting the end of the runway, but the RMG zeroed in on the enemy’s position and engaged them in a firefight. This morning, six live and unexpended 60mm mortar ammos were recovered from the enemy position,” said military spokesman Major Ramon David Hontiveros.

It was the second time in eight years that rebels attacked the military camp right in the center of the provincial capital.

In November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Abu Sayyaf militants and rebels loyal to Moro National Liberation Front chieftain Nur Misuari attacked the camp in Jolo and another group raided a village in Zamboanga City that left more than 100 people dead.

Misuari signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody secessionist war. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao. The Muslim autonomous region was meant to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between Manila and the MNLF.

But despite the peace accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted. And Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement.

Presently, the governor of the Muslims autonomous region, Zaldy Ampatuan, a close ally of President Gloria Arroyo, is not a member of the MNLF which is said to be a violation of the peace deal signed during President Fidel Ramos administration.

Many former guerrillas were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop war-torn areas in the south.

Under the peace agreement, Manila would have to provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

After the rebellion in Jolo and Zamboanga, Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, where he had been arrested and deported to the Philippines and jailed.

Misuari also ran twice for governor in Sulu even while under detention, but lost. He also supported Arroyo's election bid and her allies in the Senate and Congress in 2004 and 2007 in exchange for promises that he would be pardoned and freed. He was eventually set free. (Mindanao Examiner)

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