Philippines: Showdown on Jolo

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August 13, 2007: On Jolo and Basilan islands in the south, police and troops searched for weapons and Islamic terrorists, seeking to corner and destroy the remaining groups of Abu Sayyaf diehards based there. The last week saw a sharp increase in fighting on Jolo, accompanied by over 10,000 civilians fleeing areas they believed Abu Sayyaf was hiding in. Over sixty people have died on Jolo in the last few days, and two more battalions of troops were sent to the the island. About half the dead have been Abu Sayyaf and MNLF, the rest soldiers and civilians. Troops are trying to collect unregistered weapons, and locate bands of armed Abu Sayyaf. The local Moslem separatist group, the MNLF, has been unofficially siding with Abu Sayyaf. MNLF made peace with the government 11 years ago, but tensions remain, and the group has taken responsibility for ambushing and killing soldiers. The 6,000 troops on Jolo hope to intimidate the MNLF supporters into inaction, while cornering and eliminating the hundred or so Abu Sayyaf gunmen. The army now believes two wanted Indonesian terrorists are hiding out on Jolo. The seriousness of the situation was reinforced as an army tactical headquarters was set up in the southern city of Zamboanga.

August 10, 2007: In the south, fishermen hauled in a World War II bomb. Back ashore, the bomb went off as the fishermen tried to pry it open, to extract the explosives. Four people were killed.

August 7, 2007: Police arrested several members of an Islamic terrorist cell, that was in the midst of preparing a bomb attack on a mall in the capital. The bomb was found in a nearby Moslem neighborhood, and known Islamic terrorists were arrested.

 

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