Thursday, May 25, 2006

2 Killed In New Jolo Attacks

A Philippine Air Force helicopter gunner readies his machine gun during a patrol over Jolo island. Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants killed four soldiers and two civilians in separate attacks in the troubled island of Jolo, about 950 kms south of Manila. (Zamboanga Journal)

JOLO ISLAND (Zamboanga Journal / 25 May) Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants gunned down two civilians in separate attacks in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, police and military said Thursday.

Authorities said one of the victims, Ruel Bernal, 32, was shot by two men around 5.45 a.m. on Thursday near a Catholoic church in downtown Jolo just several blocks from a police outpost. Bernal, a native of Zamboanga City, was selling cigarettes, when he was attacked, it said.

The attack occurred barely a day after another civilian, Jurick Pollalos, 22, who worked at a coffee shop in downtown Jolo was killed by two gunmen. The motives of the attacks were still unknown, but a security spokesman blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the twin killings.

"We suspect the Abu Sayyaf as behind the two attacks. The killings bore the signature of the Abu Sayyaf's urban terrorists group," said Air Force Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

He said the group was also linked to the killings of four government soldiers in downtown Jolo over the weekend. "Police and military are investigating the attacks and security forces were ordered to intensify their operation against the terrorists," Pabilonia said.

The Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda terrorist network has been blamed for the spate of killings, bombings and kidnappings in the troubled island, about 950 km south of Manila.

Washington offered as much as $5 million bounty for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group's leaders and their members dead or alive. The US included the group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

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