Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Pulls Troops from Philippines Town after US Soldiers Killed

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Pulls Troops from Philippines Town after US Soldiers Killed

Article excerpt

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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The US has pulled out of a village near where two Navy Seabees and one Filipino marine were killed by a roadside bomb Tuesday, a Philippines military official said Wednesday. The move comes amid concerns that Al Qaeda-linked Muslim militants may be launching a new offensive in the restive south. Abu Sayyaf has regularly traded fire with Philippines forces, but Tuesday's blast was the first time in seven years that they had killed US servicemen. Aided by an estimated 600 US advisers, the Philippines military has in recent years pushed Abu Sayyaf back to its stronghold on two remote islands. (See map of the joint operations area here.) US-trained Filipino special forces have been trying to eliminate the group, with the help of US unmanned aerial vehicles and high-tech equipment like night goggles. But dense jungle canopy and an island population that's sympathetic - and often related by blood - to the Abu Sayyaf have made it difficult to finish them off. Back-to-back attacks on Tuesday, including the one that killed two Americans, have shown that the group is still capable of deadly retaliation. GMA News, a Filipino news site, quoted Philippines military officials as saying Wednesday that the Seabees, military construction experts, were pulled from one village on the island of Jolo. The personnel were helping build two schools and a well there. "As a precaution, US authorities have pulled out for the meantime their engineers in Kagay village," said Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), speaking in Tagalog. The Seabees, who have been overseeing development projects in the province, were moved to Camp Teodulfo Bautista, base of the 3rd Marine Brigade, in Jolo town. Dolorfino said despite the pull-out, the Philippines military would continue securing humanitarian projects in the area, which include the construction of two school buildings and a deep well. The Associated Press quoted the same military official as saying Abu Sayyaf might be stepping up its campaign. After Tuesday's attack, another blast damaged a bridge used by government tanks. …

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