Monday, November 19, 2018
Close  
  • share this

AFP: Abu Sayyaf group, not MILF, target of Basilan operation

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 03:03 AM April 17, 2014

Moro Islamic Liberation Front AFP FILE PHOTO

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday said its troops targeted Abu Sayyaf  leader Furuji Indama and not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the ongoing military operation in Basilan that has left two soldiers and 18 others dead, including four MILF fighters.

“We did not attack the MILF. We attacked the Abu Sayyaf. Our intelligence information was against the Abu Sayyaf and we had good information that he (Indama) was in the area,” military spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told the Inquirer by phone.

ADVERTISEMENT

MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar had denounced the killings, and asked an independent body monitoring a ceasefire between the rebels and the government to investigate the fighting which he charged was initiated by the military.

The military has said the slain MILF fighters were apparently drawn into the fighting because they had relatives among the Abu Sayyaf members involved in the clashes.

FEATURED STORIES

Zagala said the military coordinated its operations against the Abu Sayyaf with the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

The AHJAG is “the mechanism between the MILF and the government that responds to criminality and terrorism in areas with MILF presence.”

Zagala stressed the AFP had always supported the peace process with the MILF.

“It was never our intent to spoil the peace process. We support it and we are in full coordination with the MILF, through the AHJAG, in our operation,” Zagala said.

He also said it was “unfortunate” that MILF members were among the casualties in the fighting that began last Friday.

“We have to look into why they (MILF fighters) were there,” Zagala said.

He reiterated the statement of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista that the slain MILF fighters had acted on their own and that their participation in the fighting was not sanctioned by the MILF leadership.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Tuesday, Bautista told the Inquirer that the MILF fighters who engaged the military in a gun battle were believed to be relatives of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan led by Indama who has a multimillion-peso bounty on his head.

Another military source told the Inquirer that Indama is married to the sister of MILF fighter Imamul Mande, which was why the latter and his followers always give “safe haven” to the Abu Sayyaf when they are pursued by the military.

President Aquino meanwhile is unperturbed by reports that some MILF members were helping the Abu Sayyaf.

In an interview with reporters while inspecting transport terminals in Metro Manila, Mr. Aquino said this incident would not be a “problem or hindrance” to the  recently signed comprehensive peace agreement with the Muslim rebels.

“Number one, it is my understanding that we used the mechanism (in the peace pact) to avoid misunderstandings and inform the MILF about this operation,” the President said.

He pointed out that the MILF member who was slain in last week’s skirmish in Unkaya Pukan in Basilan  was there “not as a member of the MILF but because he was a relative of one of the Abu Sayyaf members being chased.” With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan, AFP

 

RELATED STORIES:

28 key Edsa personalities

Abu Sayyaf men abduct school principal in Basilan

4 suspected Abu Sayyaf men killed in Marines operations

Abu Sayyaf Group capability to raise terror remains a concern for the US

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Abu Sayyaf Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Basilan operation, Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, Emmanuel Bautista, Furuji Indama, MILF, Ramon Zagala
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.