Philippine troops kill militant commander
Philippine troops killed a senior commander of al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants wanted for kidnappings and bombings amid an ongoing offensive, the military said Friday.world Updated: Nov 20, 2009 12:09 IST
Philippine troops killed a senior commander of al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants wanted for kidnappings and bombings amid an ongoing offensive, the military said Friday.
Abdulla Ajijul was killed Wednesday during a raid on his hideout in southern Basilan province's Al Barka Township, in an area where the militants have evaded U.S.-backed military operations for years, said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino.
Dolorfino described Ajijul as an "urban terrorist leader" behind bomb attacks and ransom kidnappings in southern Zamboanga city. He carried a 3.3 million peso ($70,000) reward on his head, Dolorfino said.
The military "scored a significant gain in its anti-terrorism campaign," he said.
Troops recovered from the hideout an assault rifle with a scope, but Dolorfino declined to give other details of the raid because it was an intelligence-driven operation.
The military has been hunting down a group of Abu Sayyaf militants accused of beheading a schoolteacher early this month in Basilan when his family could not raise the money for his ransom. It was one of the latest killings blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, who are notorious for terrorist attacks and kidnappings. The Abu Sayyaf is suspected of receiving funds from al-Qaida. It is believed to have about 400 fighters on the island province of Basilan, close to Zamboanga and farther south on Jolo Island. The group has also been sheltering militants from the larger Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, the military says. Despite years of U.S. military training and assistance, Filipino troops have struggled to contain the militants, who have recently intensified attacks on Jolo, blowing up bridges, firing mortar rounds and setting off roadside bombs.
A September 29 land mine explosion under a military convoy carrying American troops killed two U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, the first U.S. military deaths in the southern Philippines in seven years.