Arroyo’s ‘Hands of Steel’ Crush Boy, Old Man; ‘Questionable Deaths’ Mar Campaign Vs Sayyaf

Jan. 27, 2007

According to the military, 10 Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed in Patikul, Sulu, on Jan. 18. But an official disclosed that five of the dead were actually MNLF members and that the other fatalities include a 12-year-old boy and a 90-year-old man who angrily stormed a Marine camp after the killing of two relatives, but was shot even before he could approach the entrance.

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY On Jan. 18, the Philippine military announced that 10 alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group had been killed in separate encounters in Sulu province. The government later said that this was yet another boost to the campaign against terrorism.

But a public official in Jolo, the capital of Sulu, who is also an organizer for a human-rights group, belied those claims on Friday, saying that five of the fatalities were actually members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Worse, according to Temugen Tulawie, a councilor of Jolo town, among those killed were a 90-year-old man, and a mini-bus driver and his 12-year-old son.

In fact, the old man, identified as Sarail Jaynaltul, was shot not in an encounter but when he stormed a Marine camp in indignation over the death that same day of his grandson and son-in-law, Tulawie said.

According to the official, Jaynaltul was shot and killed by the Marines even before he could come near the camp. All the old man had, Tulawie told on the phone from Jolo, was a stick.

That same day, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commended the Armed Forces of the Philippines for another milestone in the campaign against terror, referring to the continuing military offensives in Sulu and the announcement the day earlier of the death of Abu Sulaiman, one of the Abu Sayyafs more notorious leaders. (See boxed item)

She vowed to continuing using what she called the hands of steel to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf if one of Southeast Asias most dangerous terror groups responsible for some of the most horrific attacks in the country. The group had likewise banded together with the Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror network founded in Indonesia; two of Jemaah Islamiyahs operatives, according to officials, are being protected by the Abu Sayyaf. One of these operatives, the Indonesian Dulmatin, has been injured in a shootout with troops, the military said on Friday.

Tulawie said the first incident on Jan. 18 happened at around 12 noon, when an exchange of gunfire broke out in Tandu Bato, a hamlet in the village of Timpok, in Patikul town. When the smoke cleared, three people whom Tulawie said were MNLF members and three Marines were dead.

“They were shooting at each other at very close range, about three to five meters, that their blood even mixed on the ground,” Tulawie said.

The three dead MNLF members were identified as Almujir Karain, 21, Ibno Karain, 50 and Ablayan Sahidda, 37. Tulawie said villagers had told him that the three were mixing cement for their house when the soldiers came by.

Before the incident, Tulawie said, the villagers saw about 30 Marines walk by the village. Some were even humming tunes and waving at the people as they passed by, he added.

Tandu Bato, according to Tulawie, is only about half a kilometer away from a Marine camp.

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