Soldiers wounded in Abu Sayyaf fighting at a military hospital Tuesday 19 Sept 2006 in Zamboanga City. Jolo residents say the soldiers are heroes because of their gallantry and bravery in fighting terrorism to bring back peace on the island. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Sept) Troops raided Tuesday a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya in Jolo, where militants killed a marine commander and wounded two dozen soldiers in the latest fighting on the restive southern Philippine island, officials said.
Soldiers swooped down on the terrorist hideout in the mountain village of Tugas in Patikul town, but found the place empty, said Maj. Eugenio Batara, a regional army spokesman. "The place was empty, but troops were tracking down the terrorists," he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Batara said a marine lieutenant was killed and two dozen soldiers wounded in fierce clashes on Monday near Tugas village.
He said troops reported that they saw a foreigner, suspected to be either Dulmatin or Umar Patek, fighting alongside with the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul. "We suspect that it was either Dulmatin or Patek; we will get them sooner or later," Batara said, referring to the two Jemaah Islamiya bombers hiding on the island.
The Abu Sayyaf, Batara said, is coddling Dulmatin and Patek, blamed by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 mostly Australian holiday-makers.
Soldiers wounded in Jolo were airlifted to Zamboanga City on Tuesday for operation at a military hospital, Batara said. "They clashed with about a hundred Abu Sayyaf gunmen and we still don't know how many enemies were killed or wounded in the fighting," he said.
Washington offered as much as $10 million reward for the capture of Dulmatin and another $1 million for Patek's head. The US also put up another $5 million for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, its chieftain. President Gloria Arroyo also offered up to P100 million bounties for the capture of senior Abu Sayyaf leaders -- dead or alive.