Philippines: Hapilon, Patek elude gov’t troops in Sulu

Apr. 11, 2007

Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Omar Patek eluded government troops who raided their lair in Talipao town in Sulu before dawn Monday, military reports said.

The report said elements of the 3rd Light Reaction Company and military intelligence agents swooped down on the suspected rebel safehouse in Kanlimot village where Hapilon and Patek were said to be hiding.

Isnilon and Patek managed to escape but three suspected Abu Sayyaf members were captured by the raiding troops. Also recovered were two M16 rifles and personal belongings of the Islamic militants.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said that, “The operation was actually targeting some higher value targets but it looks like the higher value targets have left earlier It was supposed to be Hapilon and Omar Patek.”

“That’s how it goes – win some, lose some, get some, lose some,” he said.

Hapilon is said to be the chief of the Abu Sayyaf faction in Sulu while Patek is one of two JI bombers suspected of masterminding the October 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia hiding in southern Philippines.

The other JI operative is Dulmatin.

Brigadier Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, chief of the AFP Joint Special Operations Task Force, said government forces were able to track down the alleged terror leader through “technical intelligence” from US troops in southern Philippines.

“We caught them (three arrested Abu Sayyaf) sleeping. They were not able to fire,” Pabustan said.

Upon their arrest, however, the three attempted to warn their comrades that military forces were near.

Pabustan said that, “They shouted, alarming the occupants of the two other houses.”

As of posting time, elements of the 3LRC, Intelligence Service Group-K9, 7th Special Forces Company and the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MLBT) 11 were still conducting pursuit operations against the bandits.

Thousands of government troops are deployed in Sulu to flush out the remaining Abu Sayyaf and JI elements in the region. (PIA Dispatch)

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