Philippines: February 13, 2005


Soldiers caught up with retreating Abu Sayyaf gunmen near the rebel mountain hideout. Three soldiers were killed and 13 wounded, but the rebels dragged their dead and wounded with them as they retreated into the bush. A team of American Special Forces have flown in to assist. The American troops had been training Filipino soldiers in tactics and how to use new equipment. It is now estimated that some 800 Abu Sayyaf and renegade MILF fighters had assembled to fight to the death. There are some 4,000 soldiers and marines on the southern Philippines island of Jolo. Attempts at negotiation by MILF leaders have so far failed, as Abu Sayyaf agrees with al Qaeda that the infidels (non-Moslems) must be driven out of Islamic nations, like the Philippines, in Southeast Asia. Some of the Abu Sayyaf have already fought to the death, and more will. But before this is all over, many will just sneak out of the combat zone at night, especially if there's a heavy rain. Many of the Abu Sayyaf fighters are part-timers, and will then go back to being civilians. In the last four years, Abu Sayyaf fighting on Jolo has left some 500 dead. There has been serious unrest on the island since 1996, when the Moslem rebel group that was active on Jolo, the MNLF, made peace with the government. Many MNLF members on Jolo did not agree with the terms, and some broke away to form Abu Sayyaf. Islamic radicals and local gangsters also joined Abu Sayyaf, and the organization became popular with unemployed young men who saw Abu Sayyaf kidnappers getting rich. 


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