Police collect DNA samples from site of Sulu airstrikes
MANILA, Philippines—Police scene-of-the-crime operatives have taken samples of human remains on ground zero of bombs dropped by government warplanes in Sulu to confirm the deaths of three top terror leaders belonging to the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah and up to 12 of their followers.
Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said Friday the samples would be used for DNA confirmatory testing of the identities of three, including one of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terror leaders with a $5 million prize on his head.
But Robredo stressed that there was “reasonable certainty” that the high-value targets had really fallen in the air strikes. “From the information gathered from the locals on the ground, there is reasonable certainty that the terror personalities were really the ones who were killed,” he said.
Robredo admitted, however, that the crime scene specialists encountered difficulty in retrieving samples, considering the states they were found in. “The bodies were in such a state that it might be difficult to account for all of them,” he said.
The military had said yesterday no bodies had been retrieved by soldiers because Abu Sayyaf militiants quickly take the bodies of fallen comrades away for burial.
Asked how the authorities could ascertain the body count considering the condition of the bodies, Robredo said the information had come from the locals. The names of the 12 others were still not available.
Robredo said he expected the police and the military to coordinate with international authorities, including the United States, which has a stake in counterterrorism efforts in the Asia Pacific region, as well as Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
“There will be coordination with authorities from the United States…. Terrorism is an international matter, so we will appreciate whatever assistance we will get from them,” he said.
“I’m sure countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia will be able to help since some of them (terrorists) came from those countries,” he said.
The military had said that the 3 a.m. air strikes by two OV-10 Broncos in Parang, Sulu on Thursday killed at least 5 terrorists, including Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail, also known as “Doc Abu,” and JI leaders Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir or “Marwan,” a Malaysian, and Singaporean Abdullah Ali, also known as “Muawiyah.”
The terrorists were in a thickly vegetated area under the cover of coconut trees and tents. They were believed to be sleeping when the 227-kilogram bombs were dropped.
Doc Abu had a bounty of P7.4 million put up by the Philippine government on top of a $140,000 reward offered by the US State Department for his involvement in the May 2001 kidnapping in the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.
Marwan, the 29th most wanted personality by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, carried P7.4 million and $5 million rewards for multiple counts of kidnapping, while bomb trainer Mawiyah, a known JI contact, carried a $50,000 bounty for his capture, officials said.
Robredo said he still had no information on who would get the bounties but that he believed a group of government informers would be amply rewarded once documentation was finished.
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