AFP Hopeful on Drive vs Other Sayyaf Leaders; Targets Are Now Trapped in Sulu Jungles, General Says

Article excerpt


ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed optimism that following the killing of Abu Sayyaf overall chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani, at least five other "high-value targets" among the terrorists operating in Mindanao will be neutralized soon.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio S. Cedo of AFP's Zamboanga-based regional command, identified the "high-value personalities" as international terrorists Umar Patek and Dulmatin, Commander Parad, Ahiron Sahiron (Commander Pukol) and Dr. Abu Jumdail.

He said the five terrorist targets are now trapped in the jungles of Sulu.

Cedo also said that some 7,000 government soldiers are conducting operations in the forests of Sulu. They are reenforced by elements of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Navy.

American forensic experts had earlier reported that DNA samples taken from the skeletal remains of an exhumed corpse in Patikul, Sulu last September were those of Janjalani. The samples were compared with the DNA specimens of his brother, Hector Janjalani.

Noting the forensic report, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and top United States officials had earlier praised the AFP for a job well done.

"Our soldiers have been combing the jungles of Sulu for possible engagement with the terror group as the armed elements have been evading confrontation due to poor firepower and ammunition," Cedo said.

"They (bandits) split into smaller factions to avoid engagement with government troops due to their weak capability," he also said.

He admitted that the foot soldiers also suffered casualties in the past several months.

He cited one major constraint of patrolling soldiers in Sulu. …