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Three militants dead in Philippine air raid

A military air strike has killed three Muslim extremists from a group linked to Al-Qaeda in the restive southern Philippines, a military spokesman said Sunday.

The three members of the Abu Sayyaf group were found dead after air force OV-10 planes attacked their outpost on the strife-torn southern island of Jolo on Saturday, said Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.

The attack came after military intelligence said that a feared Abu Sayyaf leader, known as "Doctor Abu", had been spotted in a forested region in Jolo.

"We have been going after them long before but we needed solid information before we could launch an operation," Cabangbang told AFP.

Two rifles were recovered along with the three bodies and the search for the rest of the extremist gang continues on the island, a longtime haunt of the outlaw group, the colonel said.

The Abu Sayyaf is a group of Islamist militants founded in the 1990s, with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, that numbers only a few hundred armed men but is blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks.

The group has carried out numerous kidnappings for ransom and bombings, often targeting Christians and foreigners.

The assault on Jolo comes after two weeks of fighting, including artillery and air strikes, against other Muslim armed groups in the southern Philippines.

Cabangbang said the air strike on Jolo was not linked to the attacks elsewhere, mainly against groups linked to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country's main Muslim rebel group.

Hundreds of US soldiers have been stationed in the region for a decade to train the local military to fight the Abu Sayyaf.

In September 2009, two US troops working on a school project were killed by an improvised explosive device in Jolo believed to have been planted by the Abu Sayyaf.


AFP News


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