Philippine Star, Sunday, March 14, 2010
By: Roel Pareño
TABIAWAN, Basilan , Philippines - Government troops overran a suspected Abu Sayyaf training camp near Sumisip town yesterday, following a week of ground offensive that left six extremists killed and 12 wounded.
Anti-terror Task Force Trillium and Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) chief Rear Admiral Alexander Pama said seven troops from the 1st Marine Brigade were wounded as they tried to take over the training camp in Upper Baiwas that were rigged with explosives and booby traps.
Pama said the troops seized several improvised explosive devices (IED), ammonium nitrate, grenades and rifle grenades fashioned into bombs, battery packs, tripwires, and training manuals for bomb making and demolition.
Among the other items recovered were documents revealing an amount of P50,000 was withdrawn on Feb. 4, 2010, indicating ransom money had been paid.
1st Marine Brigade chief Brig. Gen. Eugene Clemen added the troops destroyed 50 huts that served as quarters for more than 100 Abu Sayyaf militants led by Puruji Indama.
Pama said Khair Mundos, an Abu Sayyaf trained by the al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), maintained the camp to train Indama’s men on explosives and bomb making.
Pama said Mundos managed to escape when government troops also launched an offensive on its training camp in Sitio Kurelem in Tipo-Tipo town.
“Khair Mundos and other Abu Sayyaf high value targets from Sulu were encamping in the training camp that was captured,” Pama said.
Pama said the explosives and training manual recovered at the site indicated the alliance of the Abu Sayyaf and JI to launch terror attacks in southern Philippines.
“They have a level of capability which is more dangerous,” Pama warned.
With the continued military operations, Pama said this would deny the Abu Sayyaf sanctuary and prevent them from returning to the area.