Philippines: Showdown On Jolo

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April 6, 2009:  On Basilan island, three civilians were killed, and eight wounded in what apparently was another outbreak in clan warfare. On Jolo Island, Abu Sayyaf continues to demand the complete withdrawal of troops from the area where kidnappers hold their two foreign captives. The UN is putting pressure on the government to do whatever Abu Sayyaf wants, in order to get the two UN employees freed unharmed. But the government insists that the first priority is to make sure the Abu Sayyaf rebels do not get away with their latest kidnapping. The UN has been warned to not pay ransom. The government apparently is intent on making an example of this kidnapping gang, and capturing and trying them, even if there is increased risk of the captives getting harmed.

April 4, 2009: A bomb went off in a bus in the south, wounding several people. This was believed part of an extortion effort on the part of former Islamic rebels, who have turned to conventional crime.

April 3, 2009: A roadside bomb went off on Jolo, wounding six soldiers. A bomb went off outside a restaurant on Basilan, killing two and wounding eight. This may have been part of a criminal extortion plot, not Islamic terrorism.

April 2, 2009: On Jolo, Abu Sayyaf released one of its three UN captives, a Filipino woman. But the rebels still hold the two foreign UN workers (a Swiss and an Italian).

March 31, 2009: In the south, troops ambushed an MILF unit, killing 11 rebels, and losing one soldier.

March 30, 2009: NPA rebels attacked an army base in the south, leaving 11 rebels and six soldiers dead. The army believes this attack was the result of the army finding and destroying two NPA camps in the area recently. The homeless rebels were not happy about that.

March 28, 2009: Giving in to Abu Sayyaf threats to kill their three UN hostages, troops pulled back from their close perimeter around the rebel hiding place on Jolo island. The terrorists have said they will release one of their captives in return for the pull back. Once the troops have withdrawn, they will be surrounding an area of about 120 square kilometers, which will make it easier for the terrorists and their captives to get outside the cordon. Getting off the island would be difficult, as the navy and air force patrol the local waters.

March 27, 2009: Over the last few days, fighting in the south has left twenty MILF rebels and seven soldiers dead.

 

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