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8 killed as Marines, Abu Sayyaf clash in Sulu

June 11, 2009 11:43am

Tags: Sulu
(Updated 12:35 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - Two Marines and at least six Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed when government security forces engaged a big group of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the southern Philippine province of Sulu early Thursday morning, officials said.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said the clash erupted 5:10 a.m. when elements of the 3rd Marine Brigade engaged 150 bandits headed by Albader Parad and Dr. Abu at Sitio Tandu Pugot in Timahu village in Indanan town.

Arevalo said Umar Patek, a wanted Jemaah Islamiyah operative, was with the Abu Sayyaf group.

The identities of the two slain Marines were not available, even as four others were also wounded in the clash.

"The kidnappers suffered at least 6 dead and undetermined number of wounded. The number may rise after clearing operations," Arevalo said.

As of posting time, the firefight was still on going, he said.

Earlier in the day, Armed Forces information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner and 1Lt. Steffani Cacho of the AFP Western Mindanao Command said there was no information if Italian Red Cross worker Eugenio Vagni was with the bandit group.

Vagni was seized January 15 in Patikul together with Swiss Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba. Both Lacaba and Notter have since been released, with the former on April 2 while the latter, on April 18.

Abu Pula, a former Moro National Liberation Front rebel, is called "Dr. Abu" by some people because of his purported ability to perform crude treatments on wounded guerrillas and ailing villagers.

The Abu Sayyaf is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

Philippine authorities said the Abu Sayyaf was behind the spate of bombings and kidnappings-for-ransom in the southern region. Most of the ransoms it gets are being used for the purchase weapons and to finance terrorism.

Military and police intelligence reports said several Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists are among those having alliance with the Abu Sayyaf - Mauiya, Dulmatin, Zulkifli bin Hir and Umar Patek - who are all wanted by Indonesia for the spate of deadly attacks, including the Bali bombing in 2002. The US has offered at least $16 million rewards for their capture. - Al Jacinto, GMANews.TV
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Tags: Sulu