Shelling may work better than talking with these nutters
Philippines troops shell Islamic militant stronghold
Government forces shelled an Islamic militant stronghold in the southern Philippines in preparation for an offensive, the military said on Tuesday.
Mortar fire started on Monday on a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout in the jungles of the island of Basilan, said Captain Niel Estrella, spokesman for its counter-terrorist task force.
"It's part of our offensive, to soften the target defence. This is to support our ground troops" massed around the Al-Qaida linked group, he said by telephone.
No casualties have been reported. President Gloria Arroyo ordered an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf last month after an ambush on a troop convoy in Basilan on July 10 that left 14 marines dead. Fighting has since spread to the nearby island of Jolo.
Some 24,000 people from the two mainly Muslim islands have fled their homes with the government deploying 17 army and marine battalions to pursue some 120 Abu Sayyaf members in Jolo and 58 others in Basilan.
"They are mobile but their movement is limited," Estrella said of the Basilan-based militants. "Anywhere they go they are vulnerable. We are trying to close off all possible escape routes."
The Abu Sayyaf group has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the Philippines, including the 2004 bombing of a passenger ferry that killed over 100 people.
Blamed for? Or taken credit for?