Monday, August 20, 2007

Abu Sayyaf Base Captured

Westerners often seem to think of the conflict in the Philippines as some sort of side show in the War on Terror. It's not. In fact IF the West had been paying attention to the region a little better back in the mid-90's they would have seen the same of things to come, right down to the idea of flying planes into buildings.

Philippines overruns base of Abu Sayyaf militants

The Philippine military said Sunday that it had overrun an elaborate base of operations constructed by Abu Sayyaf insurgents on the southern island of Basilan.

Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan, a marine spokesman, told Reuters that the base was seized after a protracted firefight Saturday morning that left 15 troops and at least 20 militants dead. The facility was laced with underground bunkers, tunnels and well-developed trenches, Caculitan said.

The military operation on Basilan was prompted by an encounter there July 10, when insurgents killed 14 members of the Philippine Marines who marched into a village known to be an Abu Sayyaf stronghold. Ten marines were later found beheaded.

In the past month, the government has increased the number of troops on Basilan and the adjacent island province of Sulu to more than 12,000, the biggest such deployment since 2001.
"The firefight is ongoing," Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said in a news briefing Saturday. "Our troops are now concentrating in the area. We will press on with the fight."