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More checkpoints as AFP readies strike vs Drilon kidnappers

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:36:00 06/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military has set up more checkpoints in Sulu province as troops gear up for surgical strikes against the kidnappers of a television news team and the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, a spokesman for the Armed Forces said Thursday.

“Checkpoints were put up, set up as part of the effort to go after the kidnappers,” Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

On Wednesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Alexander Yano ordered “punitive action” against the kidnappers of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama, and university professor Octavio Dinampo.

Except for Valderama, who was freed last June 12, Drilon’s group was released in Indanan town on Tuesday night, nine days after they were seized by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Maimbung town.

Torres said the military would be careful to avoid civilian casualties in their “relentless” pursuit against the kidnappers.

“We are very careful. We term these operations as surgical operations, intelligence-driven operations, so as to minimize unnecessary casualties,” the military spokesman said.

Torres said the military has identified the “general location” of the kidnappers.

On Wednesday morning, two men were caught in the capital town of Jolo with 3,000 blasting caps.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said 14 Abu Sayyaf bandits have been tagged in the kidnapping of the ABS-CBN crew and their guide.

Though linked to the kidnapping, Torres said the Abu Sayyaf is suffering from a “leadership problem” following the deaths of Khadaffy Janjalani, the group’s chieftain, and his second in command, Jainal Antel Sali alias Abu Solaiman, in September 2006 and January 2007 respectively.

“They have no leader, especially the likes of their founder, Abdurajak Janjalani, that seem to unify the whole terrorist organization,” Torres said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-06-19T18:35:29+00:00UTC06bUTCThu, 19 Jun 2008 18:35:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

Posted in Uncategorized

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