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. 

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.