ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/2 February) – Fifteen members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf were killed in an air strike in Sulu before dawn today, the military said.
Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief, said the airstrike was conducted around 3 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Duyan Kabau in the municipality of Parang.
He said that so far two known JI leaders and an Abu Sayyaf leader, who was involved in the 2000 Sipadan kidnapping, were confirmed to be among those killed in the airstrike.
Coballes identified the JI leaders as Zulkipli Bin Abdul Hir alias Marwan and Muhamda Ali alias Muawiya, while the Abu Sayyaf leader is said to be Gumbahali Jumdail alias Dr. Abu Pula.
The military considers Marwan as one of the top JI leaders in Southeast Asia after the arrest last year of Umar Patek in Pakistan.
Coballes said the identities of the three were based on the report of “our intelligence on the ground.”
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa corroborated Coballes’s statement, saying their informants are very credible.
Coballes disclosed that they have undertaken intelligence buildup before the airstrike was carried out to ensure there will be no collateral damage.
He disclosed they received reports that there were 30 of the JI and Abu Sayyaf members, including six foreign JI members, who arrived in Sulu last December.
Dellosa said they have gathered “good information” on the presence of the JIs and Abu Sayyaf bandits in the area before they launched the airstrike. (MindaNews)