Army urged: Protect Basilan infra from Abus
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2017 - 12:00am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Residents of Albarka town in Basilan want more military troops deployed in their area to protect local government projects from the Abu Sayyaf.

The 16 barangays in Albarka have become sites of deadly clashes between the military and the Abu Sayyaf in recent years.

Mayor Darusalam Lajid said yesterday that although the presence of the Abu Sayyaf in their town has weakened in recent months, the bandit group is still capable of disrupting ongoing projects.

Lajid said the bandit group opposed infrastructure projects that could empower the people and weaken its influence in impoverished villages where its members are holding out.

Albarka residents displaced by conflict in the past years have returned to their barangays through the efforts of local officials and the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Projects implemented in Albarka since 2012 brought improvements in our domestic security situation and the local economy. That is what misguided extremists do not want,” Lajid said in Filipino.

Barangay leaders urged the Army’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City to step up security in their town following last week’s launch of several projects meant to address poverty and underdevelopment in Albarka.

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