Philippine extremist clashes leave 14 dead

Philippine elite troops backed by helicopter gunships fought Al-Qaeda-linked militants Thursday in the group's stronghold on a southern island, in clashes that killed 14 people, the military said.

The soldiers battled Islamic extremists from the Abu Sayyaf group on the troubled island of Basilan, with the fighting leaving at least nine soldiers and five militants dead.

The group, which was founded in the 1990s with seed money from then Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history including deadly bombings and kidnappings for ransom.

Eleven soldiers and at least five insurgents were also wounded in the clashes, which started when Abu Sayyaf gunmen attacked rubber plantation workers, said regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.

The military had rushed to the scene to repel them, said Cabangbang, and helicopter gunships had been deployed to support the troops.

"The fighting is taking place in a forested area. Our troops are engaged in an intense running gun battle," he told AFP.

Even as troops were battling one group of rebels, more Abu Sayyaf fighters launched attacks, even ambushing the military's reinforcements, said Captain Albert Caber, the local military spokesman.

Casualty figures may be even higher as not all the fallen Abu Sayyaf fighters were recovered, the military said.

The same band of Abu Sayyaf fighters had launched similar attacks in the same part of Basilan in previous weeks including an ambush that left six farm workers dead and 22 wounded on July 11, Cabangbang said.

The plantation workers' cooperative operating in the area had previously received extortion letters purportedly from the Abu Sayyaf demanding payment of over $1,000 a month in exchange for not being harmed.

The heavily-forested island of Basilan has long been a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf.

About 600 US troops have been rotating through the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops in hunting the Abu Sayyaf. However the Americans are barred from taking part in combat.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP
    Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP

    The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that the country’s aviation has met international safety standards and is currently being reviewed by the European Union. Members of the EU delegation recently made a courtesy call on CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III. Beda Badiola, CAAP’s Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service chief, said all air carriers in the country have followed regulations that the agency was able to oversee properly according to standards. “They …

  • Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services
    Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services

    Despite the pronouncement of the leadership of the Philippine National Police that it’s business as usual, some basic services are undeniably affected by the absence of a full-time PNP chief, particularly the issuance of gun permits. The PNP had deferred the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since Dec. 3, a day before the Office of the Ombudsman slapped a six-month suspension on former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who is facing plunder charges. …

  • Expanded Phl-US war games start today
    Expanded Phl-US war games start today

    The Philippines and the United States will kick off today this year’s Balikatan military exercises amid concerns over China’s reclamation activities in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. More than 11,000 Filipino and American troops will join the drills to be held simultaneously in different locations until April 30. …

  • Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online
    Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online

    Authorities warned the public yesterday to be more careful in dealing with people they meet online as the “budol-budol” and “dugo-dugo” gangs have expanded their deceptive operations on social media. Senior Inspector Robert Reyes, assistant chief of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) investigation section, said online financial fraud is one of the emerging forms of scams in the country. Reyes said scam operators are looking for prospective victims online through …

  • Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term
    Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term

    President Aquino is inclined to name a new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief who can serve beyond the 2016 elections. Speaking to reporters at the Tarlac National High School before the weekend, Aquino said he was bewildered by the amended PNP Act that requires all deputies of the PNP chief to serve or stay at least one year in his post. Among the contenders for PNP chief are Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., suspended Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta and Director Juanito …

  • ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’
    ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’

    Stronger international action is needed to counter China’s rapid reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. Belmonte noted that statements of condemnation from global powers on the continued encroachment of China in the disputed waters have been ineffectual. He added that China’s blatant expansion activities are making the problem not just a regional security problem, but a global one. “China is obviously violating our territory in front …

  • MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks
    MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks

    Leaders of the House of Representatives renewed their call yesterday to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender its fighters allegedly involved in the killing of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the House independent bloc, said the continued refusal of MILF leaders to turn over their men is causing the further erosion of support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. “I hope the MILF …

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options