Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 17, 2000

September 17, 2000, AFP, End seems near for Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnappers in the Philippines,
September 17, 2000, AFP, 70 Abu Sayyaf gunmen bolt after slipping Philippine naval blockade,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Four guerrillas slain in Philippines hostage rescue bid,
September 17, 2000, AFP, French journalists held in Philippines "safe and sound": report,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Negotiators walk out on 'walk-in' captives in Philippines,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Philippines hostage rescue slowed by cat-and-mouse games,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Only "higher authorities" can pursue kidnappers truce offer: military,
September 17, 2000, AFP, All hostages alive: Philippines military,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Six rebels slain in Philippines rescue bid: government,
September 17, 2000, AFP, Four civilians in hospital on Philippine hostage island: mayor,

September 17, 2000, The Sunday Star, From rag-tag gang to warlords,
September 17, 2000, The Sunday Star, The week: Hit Again (Sept. 12) Compiled by K.S. Usha Devi


September 17, 2000, AFP, End seems near for Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnappers in the Philippines,

MANILA, Sept 17 (AFP) - 10:07 - When Philippine military helicopters plucked a group of freed western hostages from the Abu Sayyaf stronghold of Jolo last month, German tourist Werner Wallert was told he would have the head of rebel leader Commander Robot on a plate as a Christmas present.

Three weeks later, a massive military assault on the remote southern island seems intent in proving that the unidentified air force general's grisly offer -- recounted by Wallert to a German magazine last week -- was no idle boast.

The Muslim extremists reportedly made a fortune from a wave of high-profile ransom kidnappings in Jolo and nearby Malaysia from April, but then brought the wrath of the nation down on their heads.

For President Joseph Estrada, destroying the group has become a political imperative after the Philippines endured four months of humiliation brought on by his failure to resolve the hostage crisis.

On Saturday, despite the risk to 22 hostages and the outrage of France which has two citizens among the captives, Estrada declared "enough is enough" and ordered an attack.

Estimated to number about 4,000, hiding in a handful of Jolo villages, the Abu Sayyaf gunmen found themselves besieged by elite troops and armor and under fire from jets, helicopters and howitzers.

Flight is near impossible with a naval blockade of Jolo and with Malaysia warning that it will fire on any vessels that illegally enter its territory.

Estrada has clamped a news blackout on Jolo to keep tactical secrets from leaking out, but also effectively shielding the public from any grisly details that might hurt the now sky-high popular support for the campaign.

The military had waited nearly five months to redeem itself after being forced to hold back due to European Union pressure.

In announcing his decision, Estrada declared that "an overwhelming majority of our people support a military solution."

Even the Roman Catholic church, usually a fierce Estrada critic and staunch exponents of non-violence, stood by him.

Founded in 1991 as a radical offshoot of decades of Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, the Abu Sayyaf gained international attention when it raided the dive resort of Sipadan on April 23, taking 21 Malaysian, German, French, South African, Filipino and Franco-Lebanese hostages to Jolo.

They triumphantly displayed their dispirited captives to the international press -- some of whom paid for the pictures and interviews.

The kidnappers freed some hostages, reportedly after huge ransom payments were made, but replenished their inventory, the latest being three Malaysians seized on Pandanan island near Sipadan a week ago.

In the early 1990s the group gained notoriety for kidnapping ethnic Chinese businessmen and bombing churches.

In 1995 it pillaged the southern town of Ipil in 1995, killing 53 civilians.

Police reports say that prior to Sipadan, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 22 people over a seven-year period including at least 12 foreigners, all later released for ransom.

In March, an Abu Sayyaf band kidnapped 50 schoolchildren and several adults in the southern island of Basilan.

While most of the hostages were later freed or rescued, the nation was outraged by news that two teachers had been beheaded and that four other captives, including a Catholic priest, were killed when the gunmen fled a similar military rescue.

Remnants of that band fled to Jolo and later took an American hostage.

The kidnappers knew that as long as they held hostages -- preferably foreigners -- the military would not risk attacking them. Or so they thought. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, 70 Abu Sayyaf gunmen bolt after slipping Philippine naval blockade,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Sept 17 (AFP) - 10:18 - At least 70 Abu Sayyaf gunmen slipped a naval blackade and escaped from southern Jolo island after Philippine troops overran two strongholds of the Muslim extremist group, officials said Sunday.

"We have not received any reports about the hostages" supposedly in these rebel camps, a senior army official told AFP. It was not known whether the gunmen took along any of the hostages they were holding in Jolo.

Provincial authorities said at least 70 of the fleeing gunmen were seen in neighbouring Basilan island, parts of which are Abu Sayyaf strongholds.

Provincial spokesman Hader Glang told reporters in this southern city that government troops pursued them.

Clashes were reported in mangrove-covered coastal areas around Lantawan town in Basilan on Saturday, when the military launched a rescue attempt for the one American, two Frenchmen, three Malaysians and 16 Filipinos held hostages. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, Four guerrillas slain in Philippines hostage rescue bid,

MANILA, Sept 17 (AFP) - 10:44 - Four Muslim extremist kidnappers have been killed and four soldiers wounded in a massive military operation to rescue 22 hostages in the Philippines, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said Sunday.

He told reporters there was no available information on the whereabouts and condition of any of the American, French, Filipino and Malaysian hostages.

He had said Saturday he had not received any reports of casualties among the hostages, who were held in the southern island of Jolo.

Mercado said that as of 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) Sunday, the toll was four Abu Sayyaf guerrillas dead and four soldiers wounded.

Manila newspapers are reporting far higher casualty figures, with the Philippine Inquirer reporting from the scene that about 200 civilians were wounded.

The government has sealed off the island, preventing independent verification of the reports.

An AFP reporter on the island said on Saturday that a woman was killed and about a dozen other civilians were wounded by bullets or shell fragments in the initial military salvo.

Eighteen other armed guerrillas were detained on Saturday when they tried to flee Jolo by boat, Mercado said.

He said the government had yet to discuss a reported appeal by an Abu Sayyaf leader calling for a ceasefire so both sides could negotiate the release of the captives. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, French journalists held in Philippines "safe and sound": report,

PARIS, Sept 16 (AFP) - 3:49 - The two French television journalists held on a Philippine island by Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf since July are safe and well, their employer the French television channel France 2 said on Saturday.

The Philippine army launched a pre-dawn attack on the southern island early Saturday.

"They are for the moment safe and sound," France 2's correspondent in Manilla told the channel on its 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) news bulletin, quoting sketchy information from sources close to the negotiators.

"It appears that last night (Friday) commander Robot (the rebel leader), anticipating the attack by the Philppine army, left his camp accompanied by a dozen armed men and took with them Jean Jacques (Le Garrec) and Roland (Madura)," he added.

"Tonight Jean-Jacques and Roland are outside the combat zone," the correspondent said, but added that they were "far from the Philippine army and for the moment also perhaps quite a way from being freed."

Up to now, Philippine Defence Minister Orlando Mercado had only confirmed to AFP that to his knowledge no hostage was among the victims of the army operation, without giving details.

Chirac had earlier expressed his "concern and disagreement" to Philippine President Joseph Estrada after troops began an offensive on the southern island of Jolo to free the hostages. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, Negotiators walk out on 'walk-in' captives in Philippines,

MANILA, Sept 17 (AFP) - 12:29 - The Philippine military risked the lives of 22 hostages in a strike on Muslim extremists because most had gone to Jolo island looking for trouble, officials and analysts say.

President Joseph Estrada disbanded a team of hostage negotiators late Friday and sent in the army, rebuffing the advice of visiting US Defense Secretary William Cohen.

More than a day later, as fighting continued, there was no independent verification of the hostages' condition.

"These people have not been kidnapped," Estrada said Friday, referring to American tourist Jeffrey Schilling, French television journalists Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura, and 12 Filipino Christian preachers led by television evangelist Wilde Almeda.

"In the final analysis, our government is not reponsible for their safety, but still we are trying to find a way to get them out."

Aside from the 15 "walk-in" hostages, the Abu Sayyaf are holding three Malaysians and a Filipino taken from two Malaysian resorts and three captive brides.

More than two dozen other hostages, including 10 western tourists seized from Malaysia in April were earlier freed -- some to Libyan mediators -- reportedly in exchange for millions of dollars in ransoms.

Almeda's band of "prayer warriors" bribed their way into the Abu Sayyaf camp in Jolo on July 1 against police advice. The French crew of France 2 television followed them on July 9 to cover the hostage crisis, and Schilling visited the Abu Sayyaf on August 28 and got into a costly argument with the gunmen.

Negotiator Aventajado said Saturday that while the 15 men are "also victims", they had "sought their own fate, they went in, in pursuit of their own little agendas."

While France expressed its outrage, Malaysia said it was Manila's prerogative to attack and the United States -- while declaring it had no participation in the raid -- wished Estrada success.

Political science professor Alexander Magno of the University of the Philippines said that with all the tourist hostages out, "what are left are tolerable, aceptable casualties."

With the US government firm in its refusal to deal with the guerrillas or succumb to ransom, "Schilling is not considered a diplomatic inhibition," he added.

But while careful to say that it was "up to the Philippine government" to decide, Cohen pointedly said on Friday that how the American hostage had ended up in Abu Sayyaf custody "is quite irrelevant. He should be released, immediately and safely." --AFP


September 17, 2000, The Sunday Star, From rag-tag gang to warlords,

THE kidnapping of yet another three Malaysians has raised the demand for iron- fisted action against the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers.

But they also raise questions as well on what sociologists call the "proliferation of contest identified among Muslims'' in the southern Philippines.

Malaysian concern over the Abu Sayyaf deepened following the kidnapping of European tourists, as well as Filipino and Malaysian citizens, from the resort island of Sipadan island last April.

But violence in the southern Philippines over the past four centuries has "been like the weather--a pervasive context for even the most mundane activities," State University of New York professor Charles Frake has written.

"One may stoically submit to it, desperately flee it, or defiantly adopt it. But one can not ignore it," Frake writes in his study: Abu Sayyaf _ Violence and Proliferation of Contested Identities among Philippine Muslims.

Abu Sayyaf burst into the headlines in April 1995 when it raided the Zamboanga town of Ipil, Frake notes in his study, published in American Anthropologist.

It was then a rag-tag group claiming Islamic credentials. But those claims crumbled when Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 16 Filipino schoolchildren and robbed villagers.

Frake did his research among the Tausugs of Sulu (to which the Malaysian kidnappers belong) and Yakans of Basilan island.

"Philippine Muslims, like all Filipinos," he writes, "are hospitable, friendly, kind, cheerful and, on most occasions, helpful--outside government offices or combat zones."

Then, what drives some to beastly conduct? The Abu Sayyaf tortured Catholic priest Fr Rhoel Gallardo, yanking out his toe nails. They also sliced the breasts of schoolteacher Editha Lumone before executing both--in the name of Islam.

Violence remains primarily individual, Frake argues. Only a person pulls a trigger or a grenade pin but analysis of its history offers policy lessons.

"Violence, by threatening survival is a sure route to recognition."

There are earlier sociological studies (Herzfeld 1993) that show gracious, kind people, once slotted into bureaucratic posts, turn into boors. They inflict symbolic violence against others.

"Killing a fellow human being is the ultimate mad expression of indifference, a convincing way of identifying someone as other.

That "otherness" fostered in young, jobless and disaffected Muslims, tapped by the Abu Sayyaf founder, the late Abubakar Janjalani.

Recruits were mostly Tausugs and Yakans (traditionally hostile towards each other). Many came from refugee communities and traditional "outlaw areas."

"The tradition of English nicknames continues," Frake discovered. Before Commander Robot, Abu Sayyaf had a Commander "James Bond." There is Commander "Global," even "Doctor Abu.''

"Vicious violence cannot kill Filipino humour," Frake adds, noting that non-Muslim paramilitary had Commander "Toothpick."

At the outset, "Abu Sayyaf filled a logical gap in the matrix of Philippine Muslim insurgency," the study adds.

"Founders of the Abu Sayyaf were neither from the traditional elite, like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Nor were they university students like the founders of MNLF."

"Leadership of the Maguindanao-dominated MILF "is drawn from the established political elite, which is secular in background and orientation."

Tausug-dominated MNLF is also identified with secular Islam. "It is led by a non-traditional university-educated elite."

"Appearance of pan-Moro groups, beginning in the 1960s, tacked on a "new stratum of political identities" to previous layers of ethnic and religious divisions that go centuries back.

Their "identities were political in that their agendas were defined vis-a-vis the Philippine state," the study observes. "They constructed Moro as a political identity, a distinct nationality deserving its own sovereignty."

But for most of the 400-year struggle, Muslims were "without the benefit of any encompassing framework of a Moro."

Distinctions of identities were imposed by outsiders on a cultural world they had little understanding of," Frake adds. Yet, these differences were recognised by Muslims themselves.

Well before Islam's arrival, Jolo was already an entrepot.

It brought forth a new language and identity, called Tausug. Unlike the Pyrenee mountains splitting France from Spain, the seas of Sulu did not provide suitable material for construction of national identities (although it acts as a marine highway for today's pirate speedboats). It only left boundaries of language use.

Tausug and Yakan are hardly spoken elsewhere. In Central Mindanao, the Maranao and Maguindanao language occupies a place of prestige. No pan-Muslim lingua franca has emerged.

Those "dedicated to uniting Moros most need a common language if only for planning the next raid," Frake writes. "A minimal proficiency in checkpoint Tagalog, meanwhile, is advisable for anyone."

Rival modern worlds compete for attention of the Filipino Muslim: western technology, the Philippine state, or its Marxist alternative, modern Islam Koranic education, etc.

These objectives crosscut ethnic loyalties, built atop political networks. Moderate and extremist versions are available to Filipino Muslims and their aspirations.

Abu Sayyaf today has splintered into warlords-for-ransom gangs. It has been condemned by all Filipino ulamas and bishops. Its identity is determined by who holds the hostages and who has the most guns.

That identity has been etched further by all those who gave ransom: Finns, Germans, French, South Africans, Filipinos--and Malaysian.

"An end to violence means acceptance, on all sides, of some kind of framework for civil society," Frake says.

"It calls for a culture of the everyday in which political violence is not a normal alternative"--or a lucrative one, as Commanders Robot, Global and who-else-have-you demonstrate.--DEPTHnews


September 17, 2000, The Sunday Star, The week: Hit Again (Sept. 12) Compiled by K.S. Usha Devi

From The Sunday Star
17th September 2000

The week
Compiled by K.S. Usha Devi

HIT AGAIN: (Sept 12) Armed Filipino gunmen abducted three Malaysians from Pulau Pandanan, just off the east coast district of Semporna, barely a day after all but one of the 21 hostages taken from Pulau Sipadan were freed. It was later confirmed that Abu Sayyaf gunmen had done the abduction.


September 17, 2000, AFP, Philippines hostage rescue slowed by cat-and-mouse games,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Sept 17 (AFP) - 19:54 - Muslim guerrillas in the southern Philippines who know the jungle like the palm of their hand are playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game with the more than 4,000 troops sent to rescue 22 hostages, officials said Sunday.

The sun set on the second day of the massive operation in the remote southern island of Jolo on Sunday with none of the Abu Sayyaf's US, French, Malaysian and Filipino captives being liberated.

The government spent much of Sunday denying reports some of the hostages had been murdered, or killed by the military strike which employed artillery and bomber planes.

The operation commander, Brigadier General Narciso Abaya, told President Joseph Estrada Sunday the operation against an estimated 1,000 guerrillas could take "three days to one week."

When the operation was launched before dawn Saturday, Estrada's spokesman said it could be over in a day.

Armed forces Chief of Staff General Angelo Reyes said six Abu Sayyaf members have been killed and 20 others injured as two of their hideouts were overrun, while four government troops were wounded.

"Unfortunately the members of the Abu Sayyaf group are retreating and refuse to engage our forces," he said.

He said "over 4,000" members of the army, marines, and police were involved in the operation, with the navy imposing a blockade around the island.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado told AFP the ground forces comprised an infantry battalion and an undetermined number of special forces police units.

"There are firefights still being experienced in the area," he said. Reyes said the air force was providing "close air support".

But he said there have only been six armed conflicts in two days.

The kidnappers "are in a mode of trying to evade the pursuing government forces," Reyes said. "Resistance had only been to the extent that they were covering their retreat."

Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac has expressed outrage at the surprise assault and declared that the safety of his two compatriots was solely the "responsibility" of Manila.

Reyes said "the concern of the French government is of course understandable."

The general said the rebels' cat-and-mouse tactics meant they "had not left any of the hostages as casualties" -- but that they were also being used as human shields.

He said critics unfamiliar with the Jolo terrain "have no idea of the expanse of the area that we have to cover" -- an island 20 kilometers miles) wide and 50 kilometers (31 miles) long with heavily armed quarry lying in ambush.

Philippine police chief Panfilo Lacson said police involvement in the operation also included providing "security in town centers and in other urban centers."

The rebels had threatened to go on killing sprees in population centers in Jolo and elsewhere if attacked.

Reyes dismissed reports some of the guerrillas may have slipped the naval cordon. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, Only "higher authorities" can pursue kidnappers truce offer: military,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Sept 16 (AFP) - 18:02 - Only "higher authorities" can take up a request by Muslim extremists to halt a two day military offensive to allow the resumption of negotiations for the release of 22 captives, the Philippine military chief said Sunday.

"The matter of negotiation is a policy matter and this will have to be elevated to the higher authorities," chief of staff General Angelo Reyes told a news conference here.

Sources involved in the now decommissioned hostage negotiating team say Abu Sayyaf leader Galib Andang launched an appeal late Saturday to resume negotiations for their hostages if the military halts a massive assault underway in the southern island of Jolo.

Reyes said the military had heard of these offers to reopen talks but added that they would have to first verify them.

However Reyes said that if any Abu Sayyaf members wished to surrender, "they can do so anytime."
[...] --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, All hostages alive: Philippines military,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Sept 17 (AFP) - 16:41 - Twenty-two hostages held by Muslim extremist guerrillas are alive two days into a military rescue operation in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, armed forces chief of staff General Angelo Reyes said Sunday.

"Reports about some of the hostages being dead or having been killed, in our assessment are rumors. We are exerting all efforts to have them verified and our efforts have shown us all these are false," he told a news conference.

None of the captives -- an American, two French journalists, three Malaysians and 16 Filipinos -- have been rescued so far. --AFP


September 17, 2000, Bernama, Three Malaysian Hostages in Jolo Safe, Says Najib,



JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 17 (Bernama) -- The three Malaysians held hostage by Filipino gunmen were reported to be safe on Jolo Island where the military has launched an offensive against rebels, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Sunday.

He said the ministry was still monitoring developments following the Philippine military's strikes against rebel hideouts on the island in southern Philippines.

"Our priority is the safety of our people who are held hostage because they are innocent victims of this group," he said.

"The reports we received show that the (military) action this time is more intense than previous ones. We will follow the developments," he told reporters after officiating at a certificate presentation and talk organised by the Tebrau Umno division in Pasir Gudang, near here.

Asked on appeals by families of the hostages for the Malaysian government to ask the Philippines to stop the military offensive, Najib said it was difficult for Malaysia to intervene in the internal matters of he republic.

"We hope they will consider (the safety of) the hostages from our country," he said. --Bernama

September 17, 2000, Reuters, Philippines Says Rebels on Run; Hostages Alive,
WIRE:09/17/2000 05:21:00 ET


JOLO, Philippines (Reuters) - Philippine Muslim rebels were fleeing under the onslaught of a military assault on a southern island on Sunday and all their 19 hostages were alive and well, the government said.

Six Abu Sayyaf rebels had been killed and 20 suspected guerrillas captured in Jolo, said the Philippine armed forces chief, General Angelo Reyes. Four government troops had been wounded, three on Saturday, one on Sunday.

"All the hostages, based on reports, are alive," he told reporters in southern Zamboanga City after briefing President Joseph Estrada and members of his cabinet. "There have been no reports from the field to indicate that any have been casualties," Reyes said. Thirteen Filipinos, three Malaysians, two French television journalists and an American are being held on Jolo, 960 km (600 miles) south of Manila, in a crisis which has humiliated the government for almost five months.

Reyes said there had been six "engagements" with the rebels in which the six Abu Sayyaf rebels had been killed and 20 suspected rebels captured. He added that the rebel factions holding the hostages were in "escape mode." "....The fact is that (the rebels) are fleeing and they have not left any hostages as casualties." Reyes said there had been no civilian casualties. Local residents said scores of people were killed or wounded on Saturday.


Fighting could still be heard on Sunday evening in Jolo and the military upgraded security in the capital Manila in case of reprisals. "We are banking on you, General Abaya," Estrada was heard telling Brigadier General Narciso Abaya, in charge of the Jolo operation, by phone after he was briefed on the assault. "...Let"s kill all these Abu Sayyaf, they have given us only embarrassment." But despite hopes of a quick and surgical strike, Estrada said the military operations could last for up to a week. --ABC

September 17, 2000, AFP, Six rebels slain in Philippines rescue bid: government,

MANILA, Sept 17 (AFP) - 16:29 - Six Muslim extremist kidnappers have been killed and 12 people wounded in a massive Philippine military operation to rescue 22 hostages including six foreigners, officials said Sunday.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said six Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed and 20 others captured, including four wounded guerrillas.

Four government troops were also wounded, he said.

The mayor of Jolo, Rashdi Abubakar, said four civilians were wounded in the fighting, which he said was outside the island's main population centers.

Mercado told AFP that there was no available information on the whereabouts and condition of any of the American, French, Filipino and Malaysian hostages.

He had said on Saturday, the first day of the military operation, that he had not received any reports of casualties among the hostages.

Mercado said "ground operations" against the Abu Sayyaf were ongoing.

President Joseph Estrada, who flew to the southern city of Zamboanga on Sunday afternoon to confer with senior military officials in the south, "reiterated his instructions that the safety of the hostages and the recovery of the hostages is the primary objective of the operation," Mercado said.

Mercado disputed newspaper reports that more than 200 civilians had been killed or wounded in the fighting.

The government has sealed off the island, and imposed a media blackout, preventing independent verification of reports.

Mercado said the government had yet to discuss a reported appeal by an Abu Sayyaf leader calling for a ceasefire so both sides could negotiate the release of the captives. --AFP


September 17, 2000, AFP, Four civilians in hospital on Philippine hostage island: mayor,

MANILA, Sept 17 (AFP) - 15:39 - Four civilian casualties have been taken to hospitals on the southern Philippine island of Jolo amid a military assault on Muslim kidnappers, a local official said Sunday.

Rashdi Abubakar, mayor of the island's capital, Jolo town, said in an interview with ABS-CBN television that as far as he knew, the only casualties from the massive military operation launched early Saturday were four civilians treated for unspecified wounds.

He said the fighting was taking place outside Jolo town, and that he had not personally seen any deaths.

The interview was one of the first direct reports out of Jolo island where a news blackout is in place. The government has cut off all transport and communications links since mounting an operation to rescue 22 foreign and local hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf rebel group.

This has prevented reports of the fighting on the island, although military aircraft could be seen launching sorties from the nearby southern city of Zamboanga.

The mayor said Jolo town was largely peaceful but expressed concern that supplies would eventually run out if transport links were not restored.

Vice President Gloria Arroyo said on the same television channel that relief agencies had three days' worth of food supplies for residents displaced in the fighting, who Abubakar said numbered in the hundreds.

Abubakar said residents could hear artillery firing from a military base in the town and see military aircraft flying to attack the Abu Sayyaf strongholds but other than that, there was little indication of the violence.

Jolo town is the center of trade and activity on Jolo and the only place on the island where there are large hospitals capable of handling a large influx of casualties from the violence.

Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said earlier Sunday the fighting had left four guerrillas dead and four soldiers wounded, while 18 other guerrillas were arrested while trying to flee. --AFP


September 17, 2000, Reuters, Philippines says Jolo assault may last a week,
WIRE:09/17/2000 03:58:00 ET

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Philippine President Joseph Estrada said on Sunday he was told by the military that its assault on Muslim rebels on the island of Jolo could last up to a week.

"It will last three days to a week," Estrada told cameramen who accompanied him to the southern military command headquarters in Zamboanga, where he held a telephone conversation with the officer commanding the operation.

He specifically told the officer, Brigadier General Narciso Abaya, to rescue two French television journalists who are among the 19 hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo, 960 km (600 miles) south of Manila. "We are banking on you, General Abaya," Estrada said.

The military launched the assault early on Saturday and residents on Jolo said ferocious mortar shelling of rebel positions was continuing on Sunday. --ABC

No comments: