Abus bomb 'Bridge of Peace' in Sulu

- James Mananghaya, Roel Pareño () - October 6, 2009 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Abu Sayyaf militants bombed a bridge in Indanan, Sulu that closed to traffic to several villages and another town in the province, according to the military yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Western Minda-nao Command chief said no one was reported dead in the bombing attack that collapsed the bridge built by the military under the Sala’am Bridge (Bridge of Peace) project.

Dolorfino said the Abu Sayyaf blew up the bridge, which was connecting Parang town and many villages, last Friday about 8:30 p.m. in Barangay Bato-Bato, Indanan town and rendered unpassable to all of vehicles and civilians.

The military immediately dispatched the elements of the Explosive Ordnance and Disposal (EOD) unit that cleared the bridge of possible unexploded bombs.

The Joint Task Force Comet was ordered to clear the road of possible land mines planted by the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.

The bombing on the bridge came barely four days after the Abu Sayyaf militants also laid a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) in the nearby road in Barangay Kagay that killed three soldiers, including two American servicemen and a Filipino Marine, and wounded two other Marines when their vehicle hit the explosive.

“The troops have been clearing the roads in many engagement areas of possible land mines that were planted by the Abu Sayyaf terrorists,” Dolorfino said.

Dolorfino said the Abu Sayyaf and the JI have shifted their attacks using land mines against the military.

“The Abu Sayyaf and lawless armed group in Sulu are now using the asymmetric type of warfare like the use of land mine and IEDs and attacks on the detachment,” Dolorfino said.

He said that the militants shifted their tactics in warfare citing that the Abus is conserving its manpower and limited resources as a result of the recent military offensive that degraded the rebels’ capability.

Government troops in the island province of Sulu were ordered to stay on active defense mode following recent attacks allegedly perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf bandits and renegade Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

Active defense

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Victor Ibrado told reporters during a visit to calamity victims yesterday that he has ordered his troops in the said province to be on alert against possible attacks, especially after MNLF commander Habier Malik warned of a holy war or “jihad”.

“We are very careful in our operations because we want to uphold the peace agreement with the MNLF, but Malik has warrants for his arrest so we would treat it that way,” he said.

The AFP top brass clarified that they are not after the entire MNLF organization, but only the renegade elements, particularly those who are led by Malik, who is believed to be operating in Panamao town.

His camp was overran by government forces last year.

Ibrado said those in the far-flung detachments are ordered to be extra vigilant and prevent any attack on their camps.

“If they see that there is a threat, they should not wait for that,” he said.

Just last week, two American soldiers and a Filipino Marine were killed in a landmine attack after supervising a road construction project in the said province.

The AFP is looking into the possibility of realigning elite troops to the island province of Sulu to sustain the momentum in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

The AFP has earlier realigned its elite strike units, particularly the Army Special Forces from other places in Mindanao to Basilan to run after Hapilon and his followers.

Elite Scout Rangers were also deployed to Jolo to support Joint Task Force Comet.

Government forces, particularly anti-terrorism units in the island province of Sulu are bracing for more retaliatory attacks from Abu Sayyaf bandits in the ambush that killed eight Marines and wounded nine others. – With Edith Regalado

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