Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Philippine Troops Overrun Muslim Militant Camp On Southern Island

Troops battled al-Qaida-linked Muslim extremists on a southern Philippine island, capturing a rebel camp and killing one militant, officials said. Army soldiers fought 60 Abu Sayyaf members in mountainous Talipao town on Jolo island, military spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro said. Talipao is 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila. The clash with the group of Abu Solaiman, a senior Abu Sayyaf leader on a U.S. list of terrorists, also left two soldiers wounded. "We believe that Abu Solaiman was wounded," Bacarro added without elaborating. The U.S. government is offering a U.S.$5 million (€3.86 million) reward for Solaiman's capture. Bacarro said troops overran the militant's jungle camp, where soldiers found 17 bunkers and bomb-making tools.Last week, troops killed senior Abu Sayyaf militant Binang Sali in a gunfight in Jolo's Patikul town. Officials said Sali led an urban terror unit of the Muslim extremist group. Earlier this month, soldiers clashed with militants aboard a motorboat off nearby Tawi Tawi province, 1,050 kilometers (656 miles) southwest of Manila, killing Gufran, an Indonesian terrorist suspect who goes by one name, and five Abu Sayyaf members. Gufran was a key aide of Dulmatin, a top Indonesian terror suspect who has been hunted by troops in a monthslong U.S.-backed offensive on southern Jolo island, officials said. Gufran's reported death bolsters military reports that Indonesian militants have taken refuge in the southern Philippines — scene of a decades-old Islamic separatist insurgency.