Philippines: June 10, 2001


On Basilan, soldiers searching for Abu Sayyaf, ran into a group of MILF rebels. One soldier was wounded. In another action, the army caught up with a group of Abu Sayyaf, killing two rebels and wounding four. The army has landed 3,000 troops on Basilan island in their effort to run down Abu Sayyaf rebels and their captives. Only some 450 of the 300,000 mostly Moslem inhabitants of Basilan belong to Abu Sayyaf. The major Moslem separatist organization, MILF, has some 1,500 members on Basilan. The island is small (531 square miles), but covered with mountains and jungle. The Abu Sayyaf uses family connections to enlist hundreds of additional civilians to provide support as needed. The notoriety and ransom money Abu Sayyaf has obtained so far also makes it easier for them to get support from the locals.  


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