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Princess Mujahada

Fifty Dead In Clashes Between Abu Sayyaf

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Fifty Dead In Clashes Between Abu Sayyaf And Soldiers In Philippines

Feb 08, 2005

JUS News Desk


Nearly 50 soldiers and Muslim fighters have been killed in the southwestern Philippines as fighting escalated after an ambush by Mujahideen demanding the transfer of a detained separatist leader.


The military sent fresh troops to Jolo island to reinforce about 3,000 soldiers battling hundreds of fighters from Abu Sayyaf, a small group linked with alleged links to Al-Qaida.


Abu Sayyaf was best known for kidnapping foreigners and Filipinos for ransom until it killed at least 100 people with a bomb on a passenger ferry in February 2004.


"I have ordered air strikes to punish these renegades," said Lieutenant-General Alberto Braganza, the military commander for the southern Philippines. "We are pursuing less than 500 armed men that are holding out in the mountains."


The military said 17 soldiers and about 30 Muslim fighters had been killed. But local officials said as many as 40 soldiers had been killed since Monday.


The violence erupted when hundreds of Mujahideen ambushed a convoy of soldiers in Patikul town on Monday. They also staged attacks in three other areas of Jolo in Sulu province.


"We have information that the supporters of former chairman Nur Misuari wanted the transfer of his detention to Sulu," Braganza said in a radio interview on Tuesday. "They are trying to pressure the government to give in to their demands."


Misuari, a political science professor at a state university, organised the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)in 1968 to wage war for a Muslim state in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic country.


Abu Solaiman, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf, called on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to abandon its peace talks with the government and renew its fight for a Muslim state.


"To our brothers in the MILF, don't waive our nation's honour, dignity and right," Solaiman said in a radio interview on Tuesday. "No amount of development can pay for our homeland's illegal and immoral occupation or annexation."


He also urged the remnants of the MNLF to continue the struggle against the "enemies of Islam".


Most MNLF members to rice, corn and seaweed farming after the peace deal brokered by Indonesia. Many of its leaders were elected as governors, mayors and regional legislators.


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