Philippines: 50,000 displaced in Mindanao fighting

Violence between the Philippine army and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) continues in the southern region of Mindanao. Clashes with the 2,000-strong MNLF have left 21 dead and displaced 50,000 people. [AlJazeera, April 18] A suspected motorcycle blast has shaken the Mindanao city of Cotabato after a pro-government rally. [Reuters, April 18]

From Security Briefs, April 18

See our last post on the Philippines.

  1. Headless in Jolo
    The Abu Sayyaf extremist group decapitated seven men they were holding hostage on the island of Jolo and sent the heads in sacks to two army detachments, the military said April 19. Major-General Ruben Rafael said Abu Sayyaf may have beheaded the men in retaliation for the military killing over 70 of its members, including two top leaders, in an eight-month ground offensive backed by US advisers and equipment.

    Abu Sayyaf had demanded a 5 million peso ($105,000) payment for the release of six of the men, who were working on a government road project and taken at gunpoint from their truck.

    The Philippines has poured over 8,000 troops onto Jolo to hunt down Abu Sayyaf, as well as members of the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah who are said to use the island’s remote mountains to train and plot.

    The Abu Sayyaf, with an estimated force of around 400, carried out the Philippines’ worst terrorist attack, the bombing of a ferry near Manila in 2004 that killed over 100. (Reuters, April 19)