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Abu Sayyaf tries to blow up bridge in Sulu


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists on Wednesday bombed another bridge in Sulu, barely a month after blasting a similar structure there, but failed to destroy it or inflict any casualties, the military said.
The incident came four days after Abu Sayyaf gunmen harassed military camps in Sulu.
Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, deputy commander for Marines Operations of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao, said the Abu Sayyaf used an improvised explosive device in the attempt to blow up the concrete bridge in Barangay Kandayok in Panao town around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The bridge was not seriously damaged and is still passable, Cenabre said.
“No one was hurt during the explosion,” he said.
On December 3, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also bombed the bridge in Sitio Tangan-tangan in Barangay Tiaung in Patikul town. The bridge was badly damaged and is not passable since.
The authorities said the extremists had been targeting bridges to either slow down the movement of government troops hunting them down or to train future bombers.
Since last year, four bridges in Sulu have been attacked by the Abu Sayyaf, a self-styled Islamist group linked to the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah.
Cenabre said that  a few hours before the New Year, Abu Sayyaf gunmen also harassed two major Marine camps – one in Indanan and another in Patikul.
The first harassment took place around 7 p.m.
He said “intermittent firefights” between the attackers and Marines  stationed in Barangay Paglayahan in Patikul lasted for almost two hours. No casualty was reported on the military side.
Cenabre said that at around 11:45 p.m. of Dec. 31, Abu Sayyaf forces also attacked the headquarters of the 2nd Marine Brigade in Barangay Bayog in Indanan.
“The exchange of fire lasted for about 15 minutes. The Marines incurred no casualties and were able to foil the attack,” he said.
Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the authorities had prepared for Abu Sayyaf attacks following on intelligence reports.
He said hours before the attacks took place, the authorities monitored a large number of Abu Sayyaf members converging in Camp Tambisan near Patikul.
“They were equipped with high-powered arms and some of them were carrying  40-millimeter and 60-millimeter mortar rounds.They divided themselves into two. One was lead by a certain Johoree and the other one by a certain Jihad,” Latag said.
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5:35 pm | Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

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