02/04/2012, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders killed in a raid

The air raid struck an Islamic extremists camp located near the town of Parang (Jolo), killing 15 terrorists. Among the dead Zulfifli bin Hir, head of Jemaah Islamiah, Gumbahali Jumdail, leader of Abu Sayyaf and Mumanda Ali, one of the authors of the Bali bombing. In the coming days DNA tests to confirm the identity of the slain.
Manila (AsiaNews) - Three of the top leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jamaah Islamiyah were killed in a 'Philippine army air raid launched a few days ago near the town of Parang, the island of Jolo (Mindanao). Another 12 died in the bombing of both militant groups, but have not yet been identified. The process of recovery of remains was conducted by the Philippine military with United States special forces.

Marcelo Burgos, a spokesman for the Philippine Army, said that the dead include: Zulkifli bin Hir better known as Marwan, a citizen of Malaysia and leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda; Gumbahali Jumdail, head of Abu Sayyaf known as Dr. Abu, Head of the deadliest attacks in recent years in Mindanao and the Philippines; Mumamda Ali, aka Muawiya, former military officer from the Singapore, Jemaah Islamiyah leader, a refugee in the Philippines since 2002 after the terrorist attack in Bali . A 5 million dollar bounty hung over the head of the three, paid by the government of the United States and the Philippines, even in case of death. Burgos said that in the coming days DNA tests will be carried out on remains to fully confirm their identities. The army spokesman did not rule out collaboration with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the Islamist movement for some years working with the Philippine government for peace in Mindanao.

Marwan and Dr. Abu Muawiya are responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in recent years in the Philippines and Indonesisa. They kept their contacts with other cells of al Qaeda operating in the rest of Asia and the Middle East and used the impenetrable jungles of Jolo to train the militia. Their main source of funding were trafficking in arms, drugs and kidnapping of tourists, religious and humanitarian workers.

According to army officials, the death of three leaders - if confirmed - is one of the greatest successes of the battle against Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia since the January 2011 arrest of Umar Patek, the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist and mastermind of the Bali bombing of 2002. He was captured by U.S. special forces in Abbotabad (Pakistan) four months before the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The predominantly Muslim region of Mindanao has for over 40 years been the scene of a conflict between the Philippine army and Islamist groups fighting for independence of the island and creation of an Islamic state governed by sharia. Despite negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the historical Muslim separist movement - Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah have continued to commit kidnappings and attacks against Christians and government buildings. In recent years the Catholic community of Jolo has often been the target of attacks. The most serious occurred July 7, 2009, when a bomb exploded inside the cathedral, causing six deaths and 40 wounded.
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