Philippines: February 12, 2005


In the last week, fighting in the southern island of Jolo,  with Abu Sayyaf, has left 37 rebels and 24 soldiers dead. Several hundred additional troops have been sent south, including special operations forces (Scout Rangers). The largely Moslem residents of Jolo island have long resented the national dominance of the Christian majority. This has led many men on Jolo to join Abu Sayyaf (which aims to turn the southern Philippines, and maybe the entire country, into an Islamic state.) The Abu Sayyaf have tried to strike back because the constant army and marine patrols were making it impossible for the Abu Sayyaf leadership to stay hidden in jungle camps. But this larger operation will wipe out the primary Abu Sayyaf supporters on the island. Most of the Abu Sayyaf trapped in a mountain hideout are followers of jailed Abu Sayyaf leader Nur Misuari.  


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