MANILA - Philippine marines killed a top Al Qaeda-linked militant commander and five other extremists early yesterday in an assault on a rebel encampment on a southern island, a senior military commander said.
A marine special operations platoon raided an Abu Sayyaf camp on Jolo Island following intelligence reports that two wanted militant leaders, Umbra Jumdail and Albader Parad, were there, said Lieutenant General Benjamin Dolorfino.
Four civilians have identified the body of Parad at a military camp in Jolo, Dolorfino said. He added that a younger brother of Jumdail, Abdulhaman Jumdail, was among the slain rebels.
“It’s a very significant gain in our campaign against terrorism because we all know that Albader Parad is one of the influential leaders’’ of the Abu Sayyaf, he said. “This will have a very big demoralizing effect on the other members and shows that they cannot hide forever from the arms of the law.’’
Government troops first encountered Parad’s group late Saturday and caught up with them at the encampment early yesterday, Dolorfino said.
One marine was killed and three others were wounded in the clash, a Philippine marines spokesman said.
The recovery of the slain militants and their weapons indicated the gunmen were caught by surprise and could have suffered more casualties because it is unusual for them to leave the bodies of comrades behind, Dolorfino said. He said the 30-man marine platoon was backed by other troops deployed to block the escape of the militants from their encampment on Jolo, where the militants have operated for years despite a US-backed military campaign against them.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 fighters, has been blamed for numerous bombings, beheadings, and kidnappings of Filipinos and foreigners, including Americans. It is believed to have received funds from Al Qaeda and is on a US list of terrorist organizations.