Philippines kills 26 Islamist militants
REUTERS photoSoldiers captured the Abu Sayyaf camp in a forested area on the southern island of Basilan but an improvised explosive device left behind by the rebels, injured 12 soldiers on Dec. 20, said Major Filemon Tan.
“After we captured the camp, they were clearing the bunkers when the IED exploded,” he told AFP.
About 300 soldiers, backed by artillery and attack helicopters, launched the attack on the Abu Sayyaf group on strife-torn Basilan about 885 kilometers from Manila on Dec. 21, starting days of intense combat.
The battle involved as many as 150 members of the Abu Sayyaf group, according to the military, which also reported militant deaths that could not be verified.
A total of 26 Abu Sayyaf fighters were slain, Tan said but the military was unable to recover their bodies.
“The populace of the area, they confirmed it. They were buried at once according to Muslim tradition. Others were seen by our troops, being shot, falling and not getting up,” he told AFP.
The rest of the Abu Sayyaf members fled in different directions before dawn on Dec. 20, he said.
Sixteen Abu Sayyaf fighters were also wounded along with 12 soldiers before the IED blast on Dec. 20, Tan added.
The captured camp, measuring 30,000 square meters could accommodate about 250 people with 28 structures including fortified bunkers, the military said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian police said Dec. 21 that they were on their highest terror alert after foiling plans for a suicide attack in Jakarta and arresting nine radicals linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Three-day raids across Java ending Dec. 20 saw the confiscation of explosive materials, an ISIL-inspired flag and nine arrests.
Several of the arrested men were allegedly linked to a planned suicide bombing in Jakarta during the New Year celebrations, according to documents seized in the raids.
A total of five suspects were arrested from a cell linked to ISIL, and four more from a cell linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network behind several major assaults in Indonesia.
The extremists were targeting shopping malls, police stations and minority groups across the country, the national police chief said.
According to documents seized in the raids, police claim the two cells were identifying attack sites in Jakarta as well as West Java, Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo.