Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sayyaf splits forces, tension rises

From the Philippine Star (Feb 6): Sayyaf splits forces, tension rises

The Abu Sayyaf group split into smaller groups and was reportedly preparing to resume its fight with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction led by Ustadz Habier Malik in the mountains of Patikul, Sulu, a senior MNLF official disclosed.
The forces of Malik have been massing its forces in Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul town near the jungle lair of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron since Tuesday after fighting halted. The fight between the MNLF and the Abu Sayyaf left more than 30 killed on both sides.

Habib Muadjahab Hashim, a senior leaders of the MNLF central committee and chairman of the Islamic Command Council (ICC), said hundreds of MNLF forces under Malik continued to mass for “a final assault.”

“We are praying that Malik [not attack] because they (MNLF troops) might just incur even more casualty because the Abu Sayyaf is prepared and is in a better vantage position,” Hashim said.

Hashim said they have received reports the Abu Sayyaf has split into smaller groups for easy combat maneuver and be less visible against the bigger MNLF targets.

“I’m afraid the moment they (MNLF) attack they will just suffer more casualties because the Abu Sayyaf fighters are much prepared and they split into smaller groups,” Hashim added.

He said they still believe the fighting can be prevented through the order of MNLF chairman Nur Misuari who is currently in Middle East attending the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

“We highly believe Malik will follow being a disciplined leader. However, there is no information yet if contacts have been made to appeal to Misuari to call the order to halt the MNLF operation,” Hashim said.

Hashim said tension continued to reign in Patikul and close to 500 families have already evacuated from three barangays of Danag, Kaunayan, and Mampalam.

The Sulu provincial area coordination center disclosed that at least 468 families or about 2,340 dependents have been displaced by the fighting between the MNLF and Abu Sayyaf.

Most of the displaced villagers are reportedly staying with their relatives.

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