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Archive for April 19th, 2007

Abu Sayyaf beheads seven captives in Sulu

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 00:09am (Mla time) 04/20/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Abu Sayyaf extremists beheaded seven road workers they held hostage in Sulu province since early this week and delivered the severed heads to two Army detachments there, a military official said.

”They were all killed. They were beheaded,” said Brigadier General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force.

The decapitated heads were found in the jungles of the southern Philippine island of Jolo by soldiers, four days after the workers were seized in Parang town while heading to a government road project, said Major General Ruben Rafael, commander of the counter-terrorism Joint Task Force Comet.

Police confirmed that the heads belonged to workers seized Sunday by Abu Sayyaf extremists, said Rafael.

The beheading was a “clear retaliatory attack” for military offensives that resulted to the death of their leaders, he said.

“This is a terrorist act that should be condemned by all,” he said in a phone interview. “These are mere lowly workers.”

One of the soldiers who found the remains said, on condition of anonymity, that the heads had been scattered in various places in the largely-Muslim island.

The soldier said the troops had been tipped off on where the heads could be found.

Two of the decapitated heads were brought to the detachment of the 33rd Infantry Battalion’s Alpha Company in Lupah village, Parang town at around 4 p.m., said Philippine Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr.

The five others were delivered to the Charlie company detachment of the same battalion in Panabuan village, Indanan town two hours later, at around 6 p.m., Torres said in a text message.

Al Bader Parad, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf, earlier demanded a ransom of P5 million ($105,000) for the hostages but the local government had said it could not pay it.

More than 8,000 troops are on Jolo on instructions from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to crush the Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group responsible for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.

The group has been blamed for a series of bomb attacks in the Philippines in recent years, as well as high-profile kidnappings of Christians, foreigners and missionaries.

The group is also sheltering two members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesians Dulmatin and Umar Patek, allegedly involved in the deadly 2002 Bali bombings which left more than 200 dead.

Intelligence officials say the Abu Sayyaf had contacts with the Al-Qaeda network of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

With a report from Agence France-Presse

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-04-19T16:10:46+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Thu, 19 Apr 2007 16:10:46 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Malik: ‘We are invincible’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 06:35pm (Mla time) 04/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Claiming he and his men were “invincible” even in the face of gunfire, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander Ustadz Habier Malik, said the military should give up its hunt for him.

At the same time, Malik belittled the P1-milion bounty that the military put up for his capture, saying Sulu residents would not turn him in.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Malik also claimed the attack he mounted on the town hall and a Marine detachment in Panamao over the last weekend, which has triggered fierce clashes that have so far left three soldiers, eight rebels and a civilian killed, was an act of self defense.

At least 30 more soldiers, a civilian and an undetermined number of MNLF fighters have also been wounded while one rebel was captured.

“Don’t treat soldiers like animals and make them run after Ustadz Habier,” Malik said, speaking in Filipino. “Poor soldiers, they will die. Unlike us, sometimes, we are invincible to bullets.”

“Who is running after us for P1 million? If we offer one million, the people will run after the generals,” Malik said.

“There are many reasons,” Malik said, explaining why his men mounted the Panamao attacks. “We gave up. We can’t extend our patience any longer… We have to defend ourselves.”

He said the misencounters between government and MNLF forces and an alleged military attack on MNLF commander Khaid Ajibon in Marang village, Indanan town, prompted him to attack Panamao.

Malik also apologized to civilians who were affected by the fighting. Reports say thousands have been displaced due to the Sulu skirmishes.

“We did not mean for this to happen. We pity them [civilians], but we can’t do anything but defend ourselves,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-04-19T16:08:43+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Thu, 19 Apr 2007 16:08:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Troops play kids’ tunes to drown protest over child’s death

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 01:14pm (Mla time) 04/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Soldiers played songs fit for a children’s party from loud speakers as militants picketed Camp Aguinaldo to protest the killing of a nine-year-old girl the military claimed was a communist “child warrior.”

The protesters cried foul, but camp commander Brigadier General Alfredo Cayton said choice of songs was “unintended.”

As over two dozen militants from Gabriela and the Salinlahi-Alliance for Children’s Concerns massed up in front of the camp’s Gate 1 on Santolan Avenue, songs, including “Butterfly” from the 1990s Europop group Smile, played.

“That’s very insensitive,” Salinlahi spokesman Macky Macaspac said of the songs played to drown out their protest.

Gregorio Gelacio, 30, and Virginia Boya, 38, the parents of Grecil Gelacio, the alleged child warrior, nodded in approval. They were both at the rally.

“We just played what was on the CD. It was unintended. That’s one of the measures we are taking to discourage the protesters,” Cayton said.

The military has played loud music in the past to shoo away protesters. Last month, soldiers played 1980s dance music to drown out chants from members of the human rights group Karapatan.

Gregorio Gelacio said his daughter was caught in the crossfire when soldiers battled alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels near their house in Kahayag village, New Bataan town, Compostela Valley province early in the morning of March 31.

“The military killed my daughter,” he said in an interview during the rally. “She was carrying a bar of soap, not an M16 rifle.”

The military had claimed, soon after the incident, that Grecil, who it mistakenly said was 12-years-old, was among the rebels they fought and was armed with an M16 rifle. It claimed this proved their accusations that the NPA violated international laws and rules of war by recruiting and arming children.

But Gregorio said his daughter had just taken a bath at a nearby river and was walking home when the encounter broke out.

Gregorio said he has filed murder charges against the platoon leader who led the Army troops in the encounter, Second Lieutenant Francis John Gabawa.

But, he said, the military retaliated by accusing him of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms on allegations that he is an NPA guerilla, a charge Gregorio denies.

Macaspac said a request for a re-autopsy of Grecil’s remains had been filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Wednesday and a complaint would be lodged before the GRP-NDF (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-National Democratic Front) joint monitoring team, which oversees implementation of a human rights pact between the warring parties, later Thursday.

Sought for comment, Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said: “With these new developments, with the statements of her [Grecil’s] family, we are having a second look at the incident.”

“It will be very bad for the Army if it was proven that she is not a child warrior,” he acknowledged.

Torres could not immediately confirm if the Army had investigated the Grecil family’s claims but he welcomed the family’s filing a complaint before the CHR.

The Army spokesman maintained that reports from troops on the ground say the nine-year-old was carrying an M16 rifle.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-04-19T06:47:23+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Thu, 19 Apr 2007 06:47:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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