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Military continues pursuit of JI, ASG members

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The foreign terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) continues its training with the Abu Sayyaf in two island provinces known to have presence of the terror group, according to a military official here.

However, Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, spokesman of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the training might have been limited owing the military pursuit of the terror groups in Basilan, Sulu and in the mainland of Mindanao.

“The intelligence back operations have preempted several large scale training of the terrorists and what we believed that the JIs, if they are still here, can only do so much training on mere interaction because they have always been on the run,” Cabangbang said.
Following capture of the Abu Sayyaf camp in the mountains of Barangay Upper Baiwas, Sumisip town, Basilan in late February, the military said the terrorists were training on bomb-making and other sabotage tactics.

Cabangbang said soldiers have been stationed in the area to prevent the militants from regaining the camp and continuing their training.

He said the airstrike launched by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on the Abu Sayyaf and JI camp in Parang town, Sulu last February also disrupted the training of the two terrorist factions.

Meanwhile, Cabangbang clarified that only one foreign national has been abducted in the mainland of Mindanao in the recent months, while at least five others were being kept by the kidnappers in Sulu.

He said the whereabouts of Australian national Warren Richard Rodwell, who was abducted last Dec. in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay province, have remained uncertain since he was sighted to be under Abu Sayyaf's captivity in Basilan.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf tried to transfer Rodwell to the custody of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group but was turned down owing to the heightened military offensive against the militant groups.

“Rodwell was brought back to Basilan and has been moved to several places out of Basilan. But as to the exact location, that is being determined,” a senior military official said.
However, the military and police confirmed reports that European bird watchers Elwold Horn, 52,of Holland, and Lorenzo Vinceguerre, 47, of Switzerland were already brought to Sulu.

The two foreigners were forcibly taken last February 1 in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi province while on the last day of bird watching activity along with a Filipino guide who was able to escape.

Cabangbang said police and military forces continue their efforts to pursue the abductors of Indian national Biju Kollaraveettil, 36, who was taken last June 22 while visiting his Filipino in-laws in Barangay Timpook, Patikul town.

Police were also tracking down Hiroshima native Toshio Ito alias Amir Katayama Mamaito, who has been in captivity for more than a year now since he was taken on July 16, 2010 in Pangutaran island municipality and brought to the mainland of Sulu.

 Roel Pareño | The Philippine Star | May 24, 2012 | Article Link


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