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[UPDATE2] Over 50 have been killed during heavy fighting on Jolo Island between Abu Sayyaf and allied MNLF fighters, and the military. At least 25 soldiers were killed in the latest round of fighting.
Abu Sayyaf fighters killed nine soldiers today during an ambush in Jolo Island. Three Abu Sayyaf operatives and one soldier were killed in fighting on Jolo Island on Wednesday, while five MILF fighters were wounded in an artillery attack in Basilan. Marad Astig, a trusted aide of Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron who is wanted by the US, was killed in fighting in Sulu.
A brother of Kaharudin Usman Talib, who confessed to being a Jemaah Islamiyah operative plotting to bomb Manilla, claimed Talib is innocent. Around 3,000 civilians fled the villages of Sungkayat in Basilan as security forces and MILF battled in the region.
Two bombs were detonated at a bus terminal in South Cotabato province, wounding one and injuring an unknown number of civilians. Two suspects in the beheading of 10 Marine have surrendered. Four members of Abu Sayyaf have been identified as being involved in he beheadings. The US is prepared to step up aid to the Philippines to support counterterrorism operations.
A Basilan representative identified four of the suspects involved in the beheading of 10 Marines, and claimed they are not members of MILF. Police are conducting intelligence operations to capture 130 MILF operatives believed to be involved with the beheadings.
Over 200 armed police attempted to execute a warrant in Basilan province against three of the 130 MILF fighters who were involved in the recent beheading of 10 Marines. The village of Guinanta was deserted and the government has postponed the warrant. Abu Sayyaf and other Islamist groups have caused over 1,700 civilian and military deaths in the Philippines since 2000.
Thousands of villagers in the Al-Barka municipality in Basilan province are leaving their homes in fear of being caught in the middle of fighting between MILF and the military. Religious leaders and NGO oppose the government taking punitive actions against MILF for the beheading of 10 Marines.
The government issued an ultimatum to MILF to hand over those responsible for last week's ambush and beheading of Marines in Basilan. MILF said it is preparing for all out war. The Armed Forces of the Philippines are preparing for war as well.
The military will deploy an additional Marine battalion in Basilan in preparation for an offensive against MILF. A bomb was detonated at a market in Tacurong City in Mindanao; no casualties have been reported. Bomb jokes have been banned in southern Mindanao.
MILF said it would not surrender any of its fighters in the wake of the beheading of Marines last week. The chief of the Philippines Armed Forces said MILF has one week to surrender the culprits or an all-out war would be launched against the Muslim insurgents. MILF also claimed one of its fighters was mutilated along with the Marines.
MILF warned the government not to retaliate for the beheading of 10 Marines last week. The Philippine army believes it is close to capturing Bali bombing mastermind Dulmatin after receiving information from an informant.
Fourteen Philippine Marines were killed after being ambushed by 300 Abu Sayyaf fighters on Basilan island. Ten Marines were found beheaded; nine more were wounded. The Marines were searching for a kidnapped Catholic priest in MILF-controlled territory.