Sunday, June 28, 2009
Philippine militants kill 7 policemen, 2 soldiers
Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants killed seven policemen in an ambush Sunday after their comrades shot to death two government soldiers in a separate attack in
the southern Philippines.
In a separate attack late Saturday, another group of suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed two unarmed soldiers involved in the construction of a school in nearby Tipo Tipo township, also in Basilan.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 fighters, is listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization because of its al-Qaida links and its perpetration of terrorist attacks, including against Americans. Since 2002, American troops have helped provide weapons, combat training and intelligence to Filipino soldiers battling the Abu Sayyaf. U.S. officials hailed Basilan as a model after U.S.-backed offensives against the group fostered a period of relative calm in the province of more than 300,000 people.
But the militants and their allies have turned to kidnappings in Basilan, about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila, and outlying provinces to make money. This has raised concerns among Philippine and U.S. security officials that ransom payments could revive the group.