Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Philippine security forces pursue Sayyaf, JI terrorists

A police commander talks on his radio as they prepare to patrol Sulu province in the southern Philippines, where security forces are pursuing al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the spate of attacks that had killed and injured civilians in the past. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 3, 2010) – Security forces have stepped up its patrol in the southern province of Sulu as police and military continue operations against the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, officials told the Mindanao Examiner on Wednesday.

Officials said the operations are aimed at capturing senior leaders of the militant group blamed for the spate of attacks in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

“We have increased our patrol to protect villagers from possible attacks by the Abu Sayyaf, especially now that many terrorist leaders had been killed in past and recent operations,” said Senior Superintendent Joseph Ramac, the provincial police chief.

Police last week captured a senior Abu Sayyaf member Mujibar Amon in Indanan town after villagers secretly tipped off authorities about his presence.

Amon is one the country’s most wanted terrorists who was involved in last year’s kidnappings of three Red Cross workers and many more, including the cross-border raid in Malaysia’s Sipadan island report where 21 mostly European and Asian holidaymakers were abducted and brought to Sulu in 2000.

He was tagged as among those who also kidnapped US tourist Jeffrey Shilling in 2000 in Sulu.

Authorities are also tracking down members of the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiya who are believed hiding in Sulu and among them are Dulmatin, Umar Patek and Mauiya – all wanted for the Bali bombings in 2002 that killed over 200 people, mostly Australian holidaymakers.

Last month, an Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad, who was involved in the kidnappings of three Red Cross workers last year, was killed in a military raid in his hideout in Sulu’s Indanan town.

Senior Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, the regional police chief, said the killing of Parad and the capture of Amon was a big to the Abu Sayyaf. “This is another blow to the terrorist group and we will continue to pursue the terrorists no matter where,” Latag said.

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan said he is supporting the government offensive against the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya. “Sulu is a peaceful province. It is only these terrorists groups which are destroying our beautiful province. My people are fed up with their atrocities,” he said.

Tan put Sulu under a state of emergency last year after Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped the aid workers. He also ordered security forces to dismantle all private armies of political warlords in the province.

Last year, police also recruited some 2,000 civilians to form part of the Police Auxiliary Unit to help authorities fight terrorism and guard villages against rebel attacks.

Police and military also linked the Abu Sayyaf to Tan’s failed assassination last year outside his office in Patikul town. Militants bombed Tan’s convoy on May 13 that wounded 10 people, including a local town mayor Hatta Berto.

Tan just came from his office and on his way home when a motorcycle bomb exploded near his vehicle. Police later captured two Abu Sayyaf bombers Juhan Alimuddin and Sulayman Muin who confessed to investigators that they were hired by Tan’s political foe to kill the governor. (Mindanao Examiner)

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