Philippines: June 3, 2003

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After three weeks, the government offensive against the MILF has left over a hundred rebels dead, at least a hundred rebels have surrendered, several dozen have been captured. At least twenty soldiers and militiamen have died. Reacting to claims in the American media that al Qaeda is training fifty members in MILF camps deep in the bush, the army has sent elite recon and commando units to try and find some of these camps. But it's easy to hide small camps, holding twenty or fewer men. The larger MILF camps were found via air reconnaissance and watching for the traffic of people and goods entering the remote areas the camps were located in. This does not work nearly as well for small camps. So finding them, if they exist, will be largely an intelligence operation, and finding civilians and MILF member willing to give up information. Meanwhile, the MILF keeps denying any involvement with the bombing campaign. People connected with the bombings, who have been caught, appear to belong to one of many MILF factions. But al Qaeda links have been hard to find.

 

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