Sunday, February 11, 2007

Philippine Military Aims To Finish Off Abu Sayyaf Rebels

The Philippine military said it has set a new, open-ended deadline to finish off remaining Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern island province of Sulu "in the very immediate future." Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. imposed the new deadline six months after the military's intensified hunt for Abu Sayyaf group started in August under the codename "Oplan Ultimatum" with more than 8,000 soldiers operating in the island province. "We have imposed another deadline, a self-imposed deadline to our operations in Sulu. We are adding some more special forces there to add to the current punch that we have there," Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Philippine military."Within the year, in the very immediate future, that's what we're aiming for," he said. Last month, the military reported having killed Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani and his deputy Abu Sulaiman, and seven other sub-commanders in a series of encounters in Sulu and the neighboring province of Tawi-Tawi. The military is hunting for in Sulu two Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah militants, Dulmatin and Omar Patek who allegedly masterminded the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, as well as a few remaining Abu Sayyaf leaders include Radullan Sahiron alias Kumander Putol and Isnilon Hapilon, who are on the "wanted" list issued by the Philippine and U.S. governments.