ZAMBOANGA, PHILIPPINES – The Philippines military said top leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group may have been among six militants killed in fighting on an island in the restive south on Sunday.
Regional anti-terror task force chief Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero said that among those believed killed on Jolo island was Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader who led the abduction of three Red Cross workers last year.
„They (Parad and his men) were the targets of this operation,’ Guerrero told local radio. ‘We are running after the leaders of this notorious Abu Sayyaf group.”
He said troops on the ground in Jolo were still trying to ascertain the exact identities of the six militants killed in the clashes, adding that three soldiers were also wounded.
„The fighting has ceased. We are trying to stabilise the area now,” Guerrero added.
The Abu Sayyaf is a self-styled group of Islamic militants blamed for the country’s worst attacks, including the bombing of a passenger ferry on Manila Bay that killed over 100 people in 2004.
It is on the US government’s list of foreign terrorist organisations.
Parad’s gang snatched Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Swiss national Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni in January last year while working on a Jolo humanitarian mission for hte International Committee of the Red Cross.
Lacaba and Notter were freed April and Vagni was released in July.
Troops have since launched massive operations against the group on Jolo, where the militants are well entrenched in the rugged jungles of the island’s interior.
Sunday’s fighting came just three days after Philippine authorities arrested another Abu Sayyaf member who had been on the run for nine years.
Jumadail Arad was allegedly on a mission to buy firearms for the group when he was arrested Thursday in a joint navy and police intelligence operation.
The military said Arad was the driver of a speedboat used by the Abu Sayyaf in a 2001 raid on an island resort in which Christian missionary couple Gracia and Martin Burnham and fellow American Guillermo Sobero were kidnapped.
Sobero was beheaded as a warning to pursuing troops and Martin Burnham was killed in a raid which successfully recovered his wife.
Several Filipinos were also kidnapped but most either escaped or were released, allegedly after ransom payments.
Arad is himself not an Abu Sayyaf leader, although he is a known associate of Isnilon Hapilon, one of the group’s commanders on Jolo island who has a five million dollar bounty on his head offered by the US government. –AFP

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Philippines says Abu Sayyaf militants believed killed

ZAMBOANGA, PHILIPPINES – The Philippines military said top leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group may have been among six militants killed in fighting on an island in the restive south on Sunday.
Regional anti-terror task force chief Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero said that among those believed killed on Jolo island was Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader who led the abduction of three Red Cross workers last year.
„They (Parad and his men) were the targets of this operation,’ Guerrero told local radio. ‘We are running after the leaders of this notorious Abu Sayyaf group.”
He said troops on the ground in Jolo were still trying to ascertain the exact identities of the six militants killed in the clashes, adding that three soldiers were also wounded.
„The fighting has ceased. We are trying to stabilise the area now,” Guerrero added.
The Abu Sayyaf is a self-styled group of Islamic militants blamed for the country’s worst attacks, including the bombing of a passenger ferry on Manila Bay that killed over 100 people in 2004.
It is on the US government’s list of foreign terrorist organisations.
Parad’s gang snatched Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba, Swiss national Andreas Notter and Italian Eugenio Vagni in January last year while working on a Jolo humanitarian mission for hte International Committee of the Red Cross.
Lacaba and Notter were freed April and Vagni was released in July.
Troops have since launched massive operations against the group on Jolo, where the militants are well entrenched in the rugged jungles of the island’s interior.
Sunday’s fighting came just three days after Philippine authorities arrested another Abu Sayyaf member who had been on the run for nine years.
Jumadail Arad was allegedly on a mission to buy firearms for the group when he was arrested Thursday in a joint navy and police intelligence operation.
The military said Arad was the driver of a speedboat used by the Abu Sayyaf in a 2001 raid on an island resort in which Christian missionary couple Gracia and Martin Burnham and fellow American Guillermo Sobero were kidnapped.
Sobero was beheaded as a warning to pursuing troops and Martin Burnham was killed in a raid which successfully recovered his wife.
Several Filipinos were also kidnapped but most either escaped or were released, allegedly after ransom payments.
Arad is himself not an Abu Sayyaf leader, although he is a known associate of Isnilon Hapilon, one of the group’s commanders on Jolo island who has a five million dollar bounty on his head offered by the US government. –AFP

Read the article on AsiaOne News

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