News / Asia

Abu Sayyaf Rebels Kill 16 Civilians in Philippines

Relatives grieve for a soldier killed while fighting Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines. Services were at Villamor Air Base near Manila June 21, 2014.
Relatives grieve for a soldier killed while fighting Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines. Services were at Villamor Air Base near Manila June 21, 2014.
Simone Orendain

Philippine military officials say at least 16 people were killed Monday in an insurgent attack on civilians in the country’s southwest.

A military spokeswoman said about 50 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) ambushed residents of a neighborhood in Talipao town. The residents were on their way to a celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Captain Rowena Muyuela said men and women were killed and at least 13 children were among the injured. She said the civilians were family members of the B-PAT or Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team, a neighborhood volunteer police group.

Muyuela said insurgents retaliated against the volunteer group because they, along with the military and national police, have been carrying out operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines called the attack a “heinous atrocity.”  In a statement from general headquarters, it said the act “cannot be justified by any ideology and shows the Abu Sayyaf’s terroristic nature.” The statement said those responsible would be brought to justice.

Primer on insurgency

The Abu Sayyaf is based in the island province of Sulu, where Talipao is located. It started out as an insurgent group calling for a separate Muslim state and in the 1990s received seed money from al-Qaida.  But funding dwindled as authorities cracked down on international backers of terrorist activities. And its ranks diminished as international operations against terror groups intensified following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2002, the United States started rotating visiting forces to the southern Philippines to train the local military in counterterrorism operations.  But the U.S. said in June it would scale back its presence in the south. Some 320 U.S. troops are there now.

U.S. government officials say the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines was “successful at drastically reducing the capabilities of domestic and trans-national terrorist groups.”  They point out that the Abu Sayyaf has devolved into a criminal group focused more on kidnappings for ransom and other crimes. 

Officials say the U.S.-backed program will “cease to exist” in the first half of 2015.

The Abu Sayyaf and several other smaller insurgent groups are on the fringes of a recently signed peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group. 

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 28, 2014 12:57 PM
Another terrible attack by terrorists against civilians; and the usual group, that has a culture of violence, has attacked Muslim civilians for no other reason that they want peace and do not share in their culture of violent terrorism. There is no real political solution, with such terrorists that do not want peace, The Philippine's gvmt has been trying all kinds of political approaches to bring the conflict to a resolution, to no avail. The failure lies with the international community that gives the terrorists a free hand; each time the Philippine gvmt has the upper hand, the UN and the others step in, and prevent the defeat of the terrorists and their capture.

We see this type of failing international approach in Yemen, Somalia, CAR, Israel, Russia, Mali, etc... Such an approach just does not work, and causes millions of refugees and tens of thousands of innocent victims at the hands of the terrorists, that use the civilian populations as hostages, shields, slaves, and all types of abuses like torture, chopping off limbs, sexual enslavement, mules for drug trafficking, etc... The only way ahead is to defeat, disarm the terrorists, put them on trial and remove them from the populations they are harming.
In Response

by: jon from: Planet Earth
July 30, 2014 2:51 AM
I do not defend the killing of innocent people from any perspective for any reason, but there are at LEAST TWO sides to the story. Nothing is black or white, in a very simplistic overview, the NPA fights against the government who they view as utterly and totally corrupt, corruption which is RAMPANT in the Philippines (as in any country) at the highest levels, a government who's corrupt actions contribute to the POVERTY of the people. You have a good heart but one sided POV.

by: Samyan from: Pinoy
July 28, 2014 11:58 AM
That is the reason why we admire Israel so much. The fact that they will not allow Arab Islamic depravity to visit the Holy Land is a source of admiration to the world... and envy and jealousy to others.

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