Counter-insurgency begins in the southern Philippines

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philippines armyOn Saturday, the Philippine military launched a full scale assault on a separatist rebel group, known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), in the country’s south. Intense fighting was reported early Saturday between soldiers and the BIFM in North Cotabato province.

The BIFM claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on Wednesday that wounded seven soldiers. They are also suspected in several other attacks over the past two weeks in the volatile southern Philippines that have killed 16 people and wounded about 100 others.

The southern Philippines has a large Muslim population that includes a vocal separatist element that wants an independent Islamic state. The Philippine government reached a peace settlement with the main separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, earlier this year. The BIFM is composed of former members of the Moro group that reject the peace deal and have opted to ratchet up the violence instead.

Another counter-insurgency assault was launched on Thursday against the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan province, also in the south. The military’s objective in that action was to stop the militants from manufacturing bombs for attacks in other southern cities. At least one soldier and an estimated seven militants were killed in the fighting. Abu Sayyaf has a long record of bomb attacks, ransom kidnappings, and beheading hostages. It is on U.S. and European lists of international terror organizations.

Colonel Carlito Galvez, commander of army forces in Basilan, told the Mindanao Examiner that the troops on Thursday raided an Abu Sayyaf encampment and clashed with the group’s leaders – Nurhassan Jamiri, Isnilon Hapilon, Puruji Indama and Khair Mundos – who have links with the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiya, which has been blamed for numerous deadly bombings in both the Philippines and Indonesia.

Colonel Galvez suggested that there could be militant attacks in the south on Sunday. This is not only because of the likelihood of counter-attacks in response to Saturday’s military action. It is also because the last day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is today.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

On Saturday, the Philippine military launched a full scale assault on a separatist rebel group, known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), in the country’s south. Intense fighting was reported early Saturday between soldiers and the BIFM in North Cotabato province.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

philippines armyOn Saturday, the Philippine military launched a full scale assault on a separatist rebel group, known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), in the country’s south. Intense fighting was reported early Saturday between soldiers and the BIFM in North Cotabato province.

The BIFM claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on Wednesday that wounded seven soldiers. They are also suspected in several other attacks over the past two weeks in the volatile southern Philippines that have killed 16 people and wounded about 100 others.

The southern Philippines has a large Muslim population that includes a vocal separatist element that wants an independent Islamic state. The Philippine government reached a peace settlement with the main separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, earlier this year. The BIFM is composed of former members of the Moro group that reject the peace deal and have opted to ratchet up the violence instead.

Another counter-insurgency assault was launched on Thursday against the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan province, also in the south. The military’s objective in that action was to stop the militants from manufacturing bombs for attacks in other southern cities. At least one soldier and an estimated seven militants were killed in the fighting. Abu Sayyaf has a long record of bomb attacks, ransom kidnappings, and beheading hostages. It is on U.S. and European lists of international terror organizations.

Colonel Carlito Galvez, commander of army forces in Basilan, told the Mindanao Examiner that the troops on Thursday raided an Abu Sayyaf encampment and clashed with the group’s leaders – Nurhassan Jamiri, Isnilon Hapilon, Puruji Indama and Khair Mundos – who have links with the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiya, which has been blamed for numerous deadly bombings in both the Philippines and Indonesia.

Colonel Galvez suggested that there could be militant attacks in the south on Sunday. This is not only because of the likelihood of counter-attacks in response to Saturday’s military action. It is also because the last day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is today.

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