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3 killed in Sulu bomb run

OV-10 planes target Abus in mountain


A military bomb run in an area of Indanan town in Sulu against the Islamic extremist group Abu Sayyaf and its allies from the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) early on Sunday morning resulted in the death of three rebels, according to Armed Forces officials.

Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said OV-10 planes rained bombs on Mt. Tukay in Barangay Karawan starting at 6:30 a.m.

As of presstime, sporadic ground clashes were reportedly still going on.

“The target was the group of Akmadul Jumdail, alias Doc Abu, and JI members Marwan and Mauwiyah,” Latag said by phone.

The JI, believed to have links to the international al-Qaida terror network, is known to operate in Indonesia, Malaysia and southern Thailand, among other areas in the region.

Marwan is a US-trained Malaysian engineer long hunted by US and Filipino authorities for his alleged role in past bombings and other terror attacks.

Washington has offered a $5-million reward for the capture or killing of Marwan.

Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre, deputy commander for Marine operations of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao, said Marines on the ground recovered the bodies of slain Abu Sayyaf members from the area where the bombs were dropped.

He said four assorted firearms were also recovered from the same area. These consisted of two M-16 rifles, an M-14 rifle and a rocket launcher.

Sporadic clashes

Cenabre said sporadic clashes were ongoing and details were scant.

Latag said the Sulu police force had been placed on high alert due to the clashes in Karawan.

The Karawan air strike took place three days after the military ended a similar campaign in Zamboanga Sibugay, which resulted in the fall of an alleged camp of suspected kidnap leader Waning Abdusalam.

During a visit here last week, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban said the military’s campaign against lawlessness would continue.

Sibugay campaign

The Sibugay campaign was conducted after a series of ambushes that Moro gunmen staged in Alicia and Payao towns, which killed four soldiers and three policemen, and the clash in Al-Barka, Basilan, in which 19 soldiers died.

Both the Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay incidents had raised concerns about the future of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has been waging a secessionist war in Mindanao for more than three decades.

The MILF admitted its forces were involved in the Al-Barka clash, explaining that the government troops had breached a ceasefire zone and did not coordinate their police actions with them.

Jesuit priest Albert Alejo, a well-known peace advocate here, said there was a need for the military and the MILF to review recent incidents to ensure that government soldiers and Moro guerrillas had a clear grasp of the terms of the ceasefire.

“It is possible that only those in the higher levels know that there are mechanisms in place. It is possible that ordinary troops are not aware of them,” Alejo said.

He said a crash course on the mechanisms of the ceasefire and the peace negotiations being facilitated by Malaysia might actually be needed by those in the lower levels of both organizations.

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