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
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
“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
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.