Sunday, October 30, 2011

Military bombs Sayyaf-JI targets in Southern Philippines, kills 3

A map by Google Earth of the Karawan complex in Sulu's Indanan town in the southern Philippines shows thick coconut trees covering the ground where security forces shelled a hideout of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militant on Sunday, October 30, 2011. Three militants were killed in the air strike by air force planes, officials say. (Text: Mindanao Examiner)

An undated US government photo of Jemaah Islamiya terror leader Zulkifli bin Hir.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2011) – Philippine military planes bombed Sunday a mountain top stronghold of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the southern province of Sulu as security forces mounted fresh offensive against the two terror groups blamed for the spate of kidnappings and bombings in Mindanao, officials said.

Officials said three militants were killed in the fighting in Karawan in Indanan town and that troops recovered weapons and the bodies of suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.

“There is an ongoing government operation aimed at capturing high-value targets – Abu Sayyaf leader Doc Abu and several JI terrorists, among them Marwan and Mauiya,” Chief Inspector Amil Baanan, the operations chief of the provincial police force, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said police forces have put up checkpoints and additional patrol in Sulu to ensure the safety of civilians from possible retaliation of the Abu Sayyaf.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the operation began on Saturday and continued the next day with air force OV-10 bombers providing air support to ground assault.

“The operation against the terrorists is going on,” he said in a separate interview, adding the area is a known hideout of the Abu Sayyaf.

Doc Abu, whose real name is Umbra Jumdail, and Malaysian Jemaah Islamiya militant Marwan, or Zulkifli bin Hir, and Indian terrorist Mauiya, are on top of the military’s order of battle and are wanted by the US government on terrorism charges.

There was no immediate report if any of the three men were killed or wounded in the fighting.

The trio was also tagged as behind the 2009 kidnappings of three international aid workers Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba in Sulu.

Washington said Zulkifli bin Hir, an engineer trained in the United States, is believed to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia terrorist organization and a member of Jemaah Islamiya’s central command. His younger brother, Taufik bin Abdul Halim, was involved in the 2001 Atrium Mall bombing in Jakarta, in which he lost his own leg and was subsequently convicted.

He was reported to have fled to the Philippines in August 2003 and since then is believed to have conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf. The US offered $5 million for his capture. (Mindanao Examiner)

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