Philippines: Connections


April 20, 2010:  India and the Philippines believe that communist Maoist rebels in India have developed operational ties with the communist NPA rebels of the Philippines. The Indian government has just launched a major offensive to destroy the Maoists (about 10,000 armed members). The Filipino hopes to wipe out the NPA (3,000 armed members) in the next few years. The two groups can't do much besides exchange tips and perhaps collaborate on propaganda operations. There may also be cooperation in working with arms smugglers to obtain weapons.

East of the capital, an NPA anti-vehicle mine killed four and wounded five policemen. Twenty NPA rebels detonated a landmine and then opened fire on the police patrol.

April 19, 2010: The army is sending more troops to Basilan, in yet another attempt to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf operating there.  But senior officers believe they would need several times more troops (up to 20,000) than they have there now to quickly wipe out the 400 Abu Sayyaf who are still active.

The government dropped murder charges against two senior members of the Ampatuan clan. It was later revealed that these two were cleared, apparently, because the two men were well connected politically.  The Ampatuan clan was responsible for killing 57 people in a political dispute last November 23rd. While the army has disarmed many of the clan militias, prosecuting senior members of the clan has proved more difficult. The government is prosecuting fifty policemen for participating in the November attack, and thee of those cops have agreed to testify for the prosecution. Several members of the Ampatuan clan are also being prosecuted, but not as many as were believed in on the massacre.

The remaining 3,000 members of the NPA rebel group are particularly active this year in trying to make some money off next month's voting. The NPA is demanding that all candidates pay protection money, so that NPA gunmen won't attack them or their supporters.

April 17, 2010: In the south, someone threw a grenade into a school for the disabled, injuring two people. It's unclear who did this, or why.

April 16, 2010: On Basilan, troops caught up with a group of Abu Sayyaf outside Isabella City and killed three of the terrorists. Troops also found and defused a bomb found outside the city.

April 15, 2010: In the south, troops captured another NPA camp.

April 14, 2010: In the south, a grenade was thrown into a resort where local political candidates were meeting, killing two people and wounding 13. Near the capital, a bomb went off under the car of a judge, who was not in it because he was late to leave for work. In the last eleven years, sixteen judges have been murdered.

April 13, 2010: On Basilan, 25 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, dressed as soldiers or policemen, attacked Isabella City. The fighting left fifteen people dead, while wounding many more. Five of the dead were Abu Sayyaf. Christians, and their churches, were targeted, and the violence was believed connected with next month's elections. Politicians often hire criminal or terrorist groups to intimidate voters and other candidates. Residents later complained that nearby army units were told by city residents that Abu Sayyaf was preparing to do something in the area, but the soldiers did nothing. The soldiers later complained that they go no orders from their superiors to act. However, troops did respond quickly once the attackers started shooting.

April 12, 2010:  In the south, one soldier died when his patrol was attacked by MILF gunmen. The attackers also took casualties, but got away.

April 10, 2010: In the south, a battle between soldiers and NPA left three troops and three rebels dead.

April 9, 2010: In the south, a soldier was killed in an NPA ambush.


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