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Posts Tagged ‘gunmen’

Gunmen destroy NATO supply trucks in Pakistan

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Gunmen in Pakistan opened fire on trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, torching more than a dozen vehicles and killing seven people near Islamabad, police said Wednesday.


The attack took place overnight at Tarnol on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital on the road to the northwestern city of Peshawar and in turn towards the main NATO supply route into neighbouring Afghanistan.


Although militants have carried out a series of strikes against supplies for US and NATO-led foreign forces fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, Wednesday’s assault was the first so close to the heavily guarded capital.


“Seven deaths have been confirmed. Four are injured. There is no information about any arrests,” said police official Gustasab Khan. The casualties were the drivers of the trucks, their helpers or local people, Khan said.

Pakistani fire fighters try to extinguish burning NATO supply trucks carrying military vehicles and oil following a militant attack on the outskirts of Islamabad on June 9, 2010

Unknown attackers opened fire on vehicles parked at Tarnol. Fire erupted in the tankers and trucks, and over a dozen were set ablaze. They were trucks carrying NATO supplies,” said police official Tahir Riaz.


Local television stations reported that fire brigades had been mobilised to the scene in order to bring heavy fire under control and said there had been a series of explosions caused by the bursting of tyres and fuel tankers.


Kalim Iman, inspector general of Islamabad police, told reporters that the attack was carried out by 10 to 12 assailants, who stormed the terminal outside the capital.


“We are working to arrest them,” he said.


The bulk of supplies and equipment required by the 130,000 US-led foreign troops across the border are shipped through northwest Pakistan, which has been hard hit by shootings and bomb attacks blamed on radical Islamist militants.


But the heavily protected capital has been largely shielded from attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militant attacks, which have killed more than 3,370 people since July 2007.


The attacks began as retaliation over a government siege on a radical mosque in Islamabad and flared last year as the military fought major campaigns against Taliban in the northwest regions of Swat and South Waziristan.


Washington says Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt, which lies outside direct government control, is an Al-Qaeda headquarters and a stronghold for militants plotting attacks on US-led troops fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan.


Faced with the increasingly deadly and costly conflict between Taliban insurgents and the Kabul government, the United States and NATO allies are boosting their troop numbers to a record 150,000 in Afghanistan by August.

Source: SGGP

80 dead as gunmen attack Pakistani mosques

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 5:12 am

Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed two Pakistani mosques belonging to a minority sect in Lahore, bringing carnage to Friday prayers and killing around 80 people.


Squads of militants burst into prayer halls firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages in the deadliest attack on the city of eight million, which has been increasingly hit by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence.


Both mosques belonged to the Ahmadi community, which Pakistan has declared non-Muslim. Although the estimated minority of two million has been attacked by Sunni extremists before, the magnitude of Friday’s assault was unprecedented.

Pakistani police help an injured colleague outside a mosque in Lahore.

The United States condemned what it called “brutal violence against innocent people”.


“We also condemn the targeting and violence against any religious group, in this case the Ahmadi community,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington.


EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton said she was “appalled”.


Pakistan’s leading rights group said the community had received threats for more than a year and officials blamed the attack on Islamist militants, who have killed more than 3,370 people in bombings over the last three years.


“Terrorists have attacked mosques. They are firing and using grenades. They have taken people inside the mosque hostage,” district civil defence official Muzhar Ahmed told AFP from the scene in the bustling Garhi Shahu neighbourhood.


The attacks sparked more than two hours of gun battles with police and commandos, as bursts of heavy gunfire rocked the neighbourhoods and rescue services raced through the streets to tend to the victims.


“The prayer leader was delivering a sermon inside the hall when I suddenly heard distant gunshots,” Bilal Ahmed, a worshipper, told AFP after fleeing with his life from the mosque in Model Town.


“Then the firing became louder and closer and people started running here, there and everywhere to save themselves. Gunmen had entered the prayer hall and they were moving towards upper floors.


“The attackers were youths with beards who were not covering their faces. The floor was full of blood and broken glass,” Ahmed said.


As the gun battles ended in both locations, officials spoke of scenes of carnage — particularly in Garhi Shahu, where dozens of bodies were found.


“Around 80 people have been killed,” Sajjad Bhutta, the top city administrative official in Lahore, told reporters.


Doctor Rizwan Nasir, head of the rescue services in Lahore, said 108 people were wounded as police continued to search for any remaining attackers.


Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have orchestrated a three-year bombing campaign in Pakistan to avenge military operations and the government’s alliance with the United States over the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.


Friday’s attacks were the worst in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 101 people on January 1 at a volleyball game in Bannu, which abuts the tribal belt along the Afghan border that Washington calls an Al-Qaeda headquarters.


Nine attacks have killed around 265 people in Lahore since March 2009, a historical city, playground for the elite and home to many top brass in Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment.

The precise number of attackers at Garhi Shahu was not immediately clear, but police said there were at least three in Model Town.

“They came into the mosque from the back and started firing. They were armed with hand grenades and suicide vests and other weapons,” Rana Ayaz, a senior local police official, told AFP.

Officials said one of the attackers blew himself up and two were arrested — one of them a teenager. The other was seriously wounded.

Founded by Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1838, the Ahmadi sect has a number of unique views including that Ahmad himself was a prophet and that Jesus died aged 120 in Srinagar, capital of Indian-ruled Kashmir.

The 2009 US State Department report on human rights says that 11 Ahmadis were killed due to their faith during the year.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it had warned of threats against the Ahmadi community centre in Lahore and demanded “foolproof security and protection” from the government.

It expressed concern over “the increasing sectarian dimension” of militancy in Pakistan, which it called “a big security threat to the entire society”.

Religious violence in Pakistan, mostly between majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites, has killed more than 4,000 people in the past decade.

Source: SGGP

Gunmen in army uniforms massacre 25 people in Iraqi village

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

BAGHDAD, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – Gunmen in army uniforms swooped on a village south of Baghdad, stormed three houses and massacred 25 people from families linked to an anti-Qaeda militia before dawn Saturday, Iraqi officials said.


Among the dead were 20 men and five women, an interior ministry official said, while a security spokesman blamed Al-Qaeda said that 17 people had been arrested in connection with the murders.


The brutal killings come as Iraq’s political parties negotiate to form a government, nearly a month after parliamentary elections.


Security officials have warned that a protracted period of coalition building could give insurgents an opportunity to further destabilise Iraq.


“Men wearing uniforms and driving vehicles similar to those used by the army stormed three houses in the village of Sufia, in the region of Hour Rajab, and killed 25 people, including five women,” said the interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The official said witnesses had told security forces the killers entered the village just before midnight Friday, and carried out the murders about two hours later.


They tied up their victims before killing them in a rampage of violence, the worst against anti-Qaeda fighters since November 16 when 13 members of a tribe opposed to the jihadists were murdered west of Baghdad.


A defence ministry official confirmed the details of the attack and the toll.


“Our information is that the killers were from Al-Qaeda,” said Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Iraqi security force’s Baghdad operations, who put the death toll at 24 — 19 men and five women.


Atta said that 17 people had been arrested in connection with the killings, and that seven other civilians who had been discovered handcuffed in the village were freed.


He noted that the latter group were likely targets as well.


According to the defence ministry official, the families were part of the Sahwa (Awakening) movement, known as the “Sons of Iraq” by the US army, which joined American and Iraqi forces in 2006 and 2007 to fight against Al-Qaeda and its supporters, leading to a dramatic fall in violence across the country.


Control of the Sahwa passed to Iraqi authorities in October 2008 and since January 2009, their wages — said to have been cut from 300 dollars under US leadership to 100 dollars — have been paid, often late, by the government.


The Sahwa are, however, regular targets of Al-Qaeda, which remains active in the country.


Hour Rajab is a mainly agricultural region on Baghdad’s outskirts, mostly populated by the Jubur and the Janabat tribes.


Though the frequency of attacks has dropped significantly across Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, figures released on Thursday showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence last month was the highest this year.


Altogether 367 people died as a result of attacks in March, the fourth consecutive month in which the overall number of people killed was higher than the same month a year previously.


Saturday’s violence comes as Iraq’s two biggest political blocs — the Iraqiya list of ex-premier Iyad Allawi and the State of Law Alliance of sitting prime minister Nuri al-Maliki — battle to form coalition governments, more than a week after results from the March 7 polls were released.


Both American and Iraqi security officials have warned that a lengthy period of government formation could give insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda an opening to carry out attacks.

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Source: SGGP

Gunmen in army uniforms massacre 25 people in Iraqi village

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

BAGHDAD, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – Gunmen in army uniforms swooped on a village south of Baghdad, stormed three houses and massacred 25 people from families linked to an anti-Qaeda militia before dawn Saturday, Iraqi officials said.


Among the dead were 20 men and five women, an interior ministry official said, while a security spokesman blamed Al-Qaeda said that 17 people had been arrested in connection with the murders.


The brutal killings come as Iraq’s political parties negotiate to form a government, nearly a month after parliamentary elections.


Security officials have warned that a protracted period of coalition building could give insurgents an opportunity to further destabilise Iraq.


“Men wearing uniforms and driving vehicles similar to those used by the army stormed three houses in the village of Sufia, in the region of Hour Rajab, and killed 25 people, including five women,” said the interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The official said witnesses had told security forces the killers entered the village just before midnight Friday, and carried out the murders about two hours later.


They tied up their victims before killing them in a rampage of violence, the worst against anti-Qaeda fighters since November 16 when 13 members of a tribe opposed to the jihadists were murdered west of Baghdad.


A defence ministry official confirmed the details of the attack and the toll.


“Our information is that the killers were from Al-Qaeda,” said Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Iraqi security force’s Baghdad operations, who put the death toll at 24 — 19 men and five women.


Atta said that 17 people had been arrested in connection with the killings, and that seven other civilians who had been discovered handcuffed in the village were freed.


He noted that the latter group were likely targets as well.


According to the defence ministry official, the families were part of the Sahwa (Awakening) movement, known as the “Sons of Iraq” by the US army, which joined American and Iraqi forces in 2006 and 2007 to fight against Al-Qaeda and its supporters, leading to a dramatic fall in violence across the country.


Control of the Sahwa passed to Iraqi authorities in October 2008 and since January 2009, their wages — said to have been cut from 300 dollars under US leadership to 100 dollars — have been paid, often late, by the government.


The Sahwa are, however, regular targets of Al-Qaeda, which remains active in the country.


Hour Rajab is a mainly agricultural region on Baghdad’s outskirts, mostly populated by the Jubur and the Janabat tribes.


Though the frequency of attacks has dropped significantly across Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, figures released on Thursday showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence last month was the highest this year.


Altogether 367 people died as a result of attacks in March, the fourth consecutive month in which the overall number of people killed was higher than the same month a year previously.


Saturday’s violence comes as Iraq’s two biggest political blocs — the Iraqiya list of ex-premier Iyad Allawi and the State of Law Alliance of sitting prime minister Nuri al-Maliki — battle to form coalition governments, more than a week after results from the March 7 polls were released.


Both American and Iraqi security officials have warned that a lengthy period of government formation could give insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda an opening to carry out attacks.

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Source: SGGP

18 gunmen killed in attacks on Mexican army bases

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 7:09 am

Dozens of gunmen mounted rare and apparently coordinated attacks targeting two army garrisons in northern Mexico, touching off firefights that killed 18 attackers.


The attempts to blockade soldiers inside their bases — part of seven near-simultaneous attacks across two northern states — appeared to mark a serious escalation in Mexico’s drug war, in which cartel gunmen attacked in unit-size forces armed with bulletproof vehicles, dozens of hand grenades and assault rifles.


While drug gunmen frequently shoot at soldiers on patrol, they seldom target army bases, and even more rarely attack in the force displayed during the confrontations Tuesday in the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon — areas that have seen a surge of bloodshed in recent months.

A soldier patrols near a crime scene in the municipality of China on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

The violence mainly involves a fight between the Gulf cartel and its former allies, the Zetas, a gang of hit men. The cartel — which has apparently formed an alliance with other cartels seeking to exterminate the Zetas — has been warning people in the region with a series of banners and e-mails that the conflict would get worse over the next two to three months.


Gunmen staged seven separate attacks on the army, including three blockades, Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said Wednesday. He called the attacks “desperate reactions by criminal gangs to the progress being made by federal authorities” against Mexico’s drug cartels.


Villegas said gunmen parked trucks and SUVs outside a military base in the border city of Reynosa trying to block troops from leaving, sparking a gunbattle with soldiers. At the same time, gunmen blocked several streets leading to a garrison in the nearby border city of Matamoros.


Another gang of armed men opened fire from several vehicles on soldiers guarding a federal highway in General Bravo, in Nuevo Leon state.


Troops fought back, killing 18 gunmen, wounding two and detaining seven more suspects. One soldier suffered slight injuries.


Soldiers also seized 54 rifles, 61 hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, eight homemade explosive devices and six bulletproofed vehicles used by the attackers.


Mexico’s northern states are under siege from the escalating violence involving drug gangs.


The U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey warned American citizens who may be traveling for Easter week about recent battles in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Durango. The consulate said U.S. citizens traveling by road from Monterrey to Texas “should be especially vigilant.”


One of the clashes between soldiers and gunmen killed two gunmen on the highway connecting Monterrey and Reynosa, which is across the border from McAllen, Texas.


Less than two hours before that shootout, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina had assured citizens that authorities regained control over the state’s highways.


“I’ve found the highways calm. We ask that if citizens have plans to go out and enjoy these vacations, they should do so,” Medina said.


Also on Wednesday, authorities in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco announced that the nephew of one of Mexico‘s most-wanted drug gang leaders was captured together with a police chief accused of protecting a notorious cartel in a key port city.


Federal police detained Roberto Rivero Arana, who identified himself as the nephew of reputed Zetas gang leader Heriberto Lazcano, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement issued late Tuesday.


He was arrest along with Daniel Perez, the acting police chief of Ciudad del Carmen, an oil hub in neighboring Campeche state. The statement alleged Perez received 200,000 pesos ($16,000) a month for protecting the Zetas.


The arrests come as the Zetas are under pressure from a bloody turf war with their former ally, the Gulf cartel. Authorities blame that fight for contributing to a surge of violence in Mexico’s northeastern border states north of Tabasco and Campeche.

Perez was acting chief pending a permanent appointment, Ciudad del Carmen Mayor Aracely Escalante said Wednesday.

“He’s an agent who had been with the police force long before we took over the town government,” Escalante said. “We had given him our trust.”

The two men were found with 10 assault rifles, a grenade, ammunition, drugs, police uniforms and worker suits with the logo of Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Last week, Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier warned that the arrests of several suspected Zetas over the past several months could stoke turf battles in his region. He asked the federal government to send troops.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government announced that federal police will take over the anti-crime campaign currently headed by the army in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez.

The army deployment has come under criticism from those who say soldiers are not trained for police work, and complaints they conducted illegal searches and detentions. But perhaps more important is the fact that killings have continued apace, even with troops in the city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

An unspecified number of soldiers will remain in Juarez to help combat drug gang violence that killed more than 2,600 people last year, and 500 more so far this year in the city of 1.3 million.

Starting Thursday, “the Mexican army will start gradually transferring responsibility for public safety to civilian authorities, to federal authorities at the beginning and gradually to state and local” forces, the Interior Department said in a news release.

The statement said 1,000 federal officers will be added to the police deployment in the city, bringing the number of federal agents to 4,500.

More than 7,000 troops had arrived in Juarez by mid-2009.

The department said the change was part of a new strategy to focus on social programs as an answer to the continuing violence.

Elsewhere, four severed human heads were found early Wednesday in Apatzingan, a town in the western state of Michoacan. Residents found the heads, with eyes still blindfolded, lined up at the foot of a monument along with a threatening message, state prosecutors said.

In Morelia, the Michoacan state capital, police reported finding the bodies of three young men who had been shot to death. The bodies had messages stuck to their chests with knives, The contents of the messages were not released.

Police in the border city of Nogales reported finding the bullet-ridden bodies of three men, including a city transport official, on a rural road along with three burned-out vehicles.

Wednesday marked the beginning of Mexico’s Easter Week vacation, and police in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero reported that gunmen had held up two motorists on the highway leading to the resort of Acapulco. The gunmen stole the victims’ vehicles, but they were not injured.

Source: SGGP

Gunmen storm Afghan police post, kill 8: governor

In World on December 15, 2009 at 2:37 am

Afghanistan, Dec. 14 (AFP) – Islamist gunmen stormed an Afghan police post set up to protect NATO convoys in the north of the country overnight, killing eight policemen, a senior local official said Monday.

The group of gunmen ambushed the post at 2:00 am on the main highway running northeast from the Afghan capital Kabul through Baghlan province, which lies on a route supplying NATO troops fighting a Taliban-led insurgency.

The attack underscores the vulnerability of Afghan police, whose training along with that of the local military is a cornerstone of a new US strategy to turn around the war and start withdrawing American troops in July 2011.

“Eight police were killed in an attack on their post. Their post was in Baghlan Markazi district,” Mohammad Akbar Barakzai, Baghlan provincial governor, told AFP.

He blamed Hezb-e-Islami, an Islamist militant group particularly strong in northeastern regions of Afghanistan, such as Baghlan and neighbouring Kunduz province, where violence has steadily increased over the last two years.

A man claiming to speak for Hezb-e-Islami told AFP in a telephone call his group had carried out the attack. He said one of the group’s fighters had also died.

Hezb-e-Islami is led by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is on the United States’ most wanted list of terror suspects.

Barakzai said the post had been set up only recently to protect convoys supplying NATO troops in Afghanistan.

An increasing volume of supplies for the 113,000 NATO and US troops based in the country is coming into the landlocked country from the north, with the main route through neighbouring Pakistan frequently coming under attack.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Philippine tribal gunmen free all 47 hostages

In World on December 14, 2009 at 4:43 am

PROSPERIDAD, Philippines (AFP) – Tribal gunmen in the southern Philippines on Sunday released 47 hostages they had been holding for three days, after authorities agreed not to arrest them and animals were sacrificed.


The ending to the ordeal was a rare piece of good news for the lawless south, following a political massacre last month that left 57 people dead and the beheading of a man last week in an unrelated abduction.








One of the tribal gunmen watches as hostages eat their breakfast at their mountain lair in the town of Prosperidad, Mindanao on December 12 (AFP photo)

The vice governor of Agusan del Sur, where the mass kidnapping took place, told reporters that government negotiators had signed a deal not to arrest the kidnappers, a key factor in ending the stand-off.


“Yes at last! Yahoo!,” vice governor Santiago Cane said in a mobile phone text message to the media after he picked up the hostages from the gunmen’s hideout in a cleared patch of jungle on a mountaintop.


The hostages, aged 17 to 62, were driven down the mountain in an army truck to a hospital in Prosperidad, the provincial capital, looking weary.


“Thank you very much, thank you very much,” one of the hostages said in front of reporters before military escorts took him and others away for medical check-ups and a debriefing.


Cane and other government officials had earlier Sunday met kidnap leader Ondo Perez in a restaurant to broker a deal after the hostages had spent three nights sleeping outside at the gunmen’s lair.


In a more bizarre effort to placate the kidnappers, negotiators also Sunday brought in tribal leaders to sacrifice animals as part of a ritual demanded by Perez in overnight talks.


One black pig and three chickens were slaughtered, while 10 boiled eggs and 10 bottles of local wine were offered to the gods.


After the ceremony, Cane took Perez to a local restaurant where he met in private with Governor Valentina Plaza and the deal was struck to give the kidnappers immunity from police action.


“All members of (the government) crisis committee signed a document in front of Perez where they stated that all members of the group won’t be arrested or detained,” Cane said.


Instead, the issue will be referred to elders of Perez’s Manobo tribe for settlement — which is allowed under local laws governing indigenous groups in the Philippines.


Perez and his band of 13 gunmen, former communist guerrillas and members of the mountain-dwelling Manobo tribe, raided a school in a small farming village in Mindanao’s Agusan valley region on Thursday, taking 75 hostages.


Twenty-eight hostages, including 18 children, were later freed and Perez had said the rest would follow on Sunday. But this was delayed by negotiations over his various demands.


The kidnapping appeared to have been driven by a feud between rival families within the Manobo tribe.


Perez had demanded that Calpito Icuag, a senior member of the rival family, have his bodyguards disarmed. He also demanded the arrest of another clan member, Joel Tubay.


The governor had assured him that Icuag’s bodyguards had already turned over their guns to the military, and that a special task force was hunting Tubay, a government spokesman said.


Tubay, who has an outstanding arrest warrant for murder, remained in hiding and had refused to turn himself in.


In addition, Perez wanted murder charges against him dropped.


It was not immediately clear if those charges had been dropped as part of the deal that set the hostages free.


The southern Philippines’ Mindanao region — where Muslim and communist insurgents mix with warring clans, pirates and corrupt officials — is infamous for its lawless nature.


But the recent explosion of violence in Mindanao has shocked the country.


President Gloria Arroyo lifted martial law over Maguindanao, another province in the region, on Saturday after eight days of emergency rule triggered by the massacre last month of 57 people.


The massacre was allegedly carried out by the heads of a Muslim clan that had ruled the area since 2001.


Meanwhile, Al Qaeda-linked militants on the island of Basilan are still holding three hostages after beheading another captive on Wednesday.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Tense talks as gunmen hold 57 Philippine hostages

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

Tense negotiations to free 57 people held captive by tribal gunmen wanted for murder in the volatile southern Philippines entered their second day Friday, amid signs of a breakthrough.








Philippine soldiers patrol Mindanao island (AFP Photo).

The gunmen, members of the indigenous Manobo tribe, said they were willing to free the hostages who spent the night in a mountain hideout surrounded by security forces, negotiator Josefina Bajade said.


“They are okay and alive,” Bajade said of the hostages, who were among 75 people, including school children, initially seized by the group from a village in Prosperidad town on Mindanao island Thursday.


“They said they were willing to give up and release their hostages. We are optimistic they will be freed soon, hopefully within today,” Bajade told AFP.


“They are receptive to the negotiations. Our communication lines are open.”


The mass kidnapping is part of an explosion of violence that has been stunning even for the southern Philippines, a lawless region where Muslim and communist insurgents mix with warring clans, pirates and corrupt officials.


Maguindanao province on Mindanao island remained under martial law Friday following a massacre last month of 57 people allegedly by the heads of a Muslim clan that had ruled that area since 2001.


And suspected Al Qaeda-linked militants on Thursday abducted a college professor from a nearby island where they had just a day earlier severed the head of another captive, according to government officials there.


Fuelling the violence, the majority of the estimated 1.8 million unlicensed firearms in the Philippines are estimated to be in the Mindanao region.


Bajade on Friday identified those behind Thursday’s mass kidnapping as members of the Perez clan, who belong to the indigenous Manobo tribe and are wanted for a string crimes including the murder of a member of a rival family.


She said the tribesmen launched the raid to prevent police from serving arrest warrants Thursday.


Police said the kidnap leader, Ondo Perez, has demanded that arrest warrants against them be lifted, and for police to also disarm members of their rivals, the Tubay clan.


Both clans have for years been locked in a bitter land dispute in Agusan del Sur province that had led to the killing, Bajade said.


“The main demand is for police to disarm the rival family. They feel they are being singled out,” she said.


Meanwhile, security forces pressed ahead with efforts to disarm thousands of militiamen loyal to the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province following the November 23 massacre of 57 people there.


The Ampatuans are accused of organising the massacre to stop a rival politician from challenging for the post of provincial governor in next year’s elections.


President Gloria Arroyo imposed martial law and accused the clan, whose patriarch had been governor since 2001, of rebellion.


Arroyo had used Ampatuans to help contain Muslim separatists, allowing them to maintain a well-armed private army that is being accused of having terrorised the public.


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is the main Muslim rebel group in Mindanao, and their insurgency has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the late 1970s, according to the military.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Philippine tribal gunmen warn of killing hostages

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Tribal gunmen in the southern Philippines warned Friday they would massacre dozens of hostages if police made a rescue bid, as hundreds of security forces surrounded their mountain lair.








An armed abductor (R) walks past a group of hostages on the outskirts of Prosperidad, a town in the province of Agusan del Sur on Mindanao island on December 11 during a visit by the media and negotiators to the area.

The two-day hostage drama was the latest unrest to hit the Philippines’ volatile Mindanao region, after a political massacre last month shocked the nation and triggered martial law in one province.


“I will kill the hostages if police attempt to rescue them,” the gunmen’s leader Ondo Perez told an AFP reporter who accompanied a government negotiator to the remote site.


But shortly afterwards Perez released 10 of his 57 hostages, according to the negotiator, Josefina Bajade. Nine of those released were women and the other was a boy, Bajade told AFP.


Authorities identified the gunmen as members of the Manobo clan, and said they were wanted on charges of murder and other crimes.


Perez, slinging an assault rifle and clad in rubber boots, shorts and a tattered shirt, gave police one week to meet his demands, including lifting arrest warrants issued against his 15-man group.


He also demanded that authorities disarm a rival clan engaged in a bitter land feud with the Manobos.


Seventy-five people were initially seized on Thursday morning from a school and neighbouring houses in a small farming village on the outskirts of Prosperidad, the capital of Agusan del Sur province.


Bajade secured the release of 18 hostages, all but one of them school children, within eight hours of the kidnapping.


The 47 still in captivity are mainly farmers and other residents of the raided village, plus the school principal, according to local officials.


They were being kept in an abandoned hut in a clearing of a thickly forested mountain about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from their village.


The hostages were made to sleep overnight on the ground.


At least 400 police and army personnel were deployed on the mountain and preparing to assault the lair if commanders gave the green light, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.


Bajade said the Manobo tribesmen launched the raid to prevent police from serving arrest warrants against family members for the murder of four people belonging to the rival family.


The mass kidnapping was part of an explosion of violence that has been stunning even for the southern Philippines, a lawless region where Muslim and communist insurgents mix with warring clans, pirates and corrupt officials.


Islamic militants on Thursday abducted a college professor on Basilan island, which is part of the Mindanao region, a day after beheading another captive whom they kidnapped on November 10 from a logging company.


The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which specialises in kidnappings-for-ransom, were holding three people in total on Basilan, with the two others taken from the logging firm.


The Abu Sayyaf are a small group of militants on the US government’s list of wanted extremists who have been blamed for a string of abductions in the southern Philippines, as well as the country’s worst terrorist attacks.


Maguindanao province in Mindanao meanwhile remains under martial law following the massacre last month of 57 people, allegedly by the heads of a Muslim clan that had ruled the area since 2001.


Security forces pressed Friday with efforts to disarm thousands of militiamen loyal to the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao.


The Ampatuans are accused of organising the massacre to stop a rival politician from challenging them for the post of provincial governor in elections next year.


President Gloria Arroyo had used the Ampatuans to help contain Muslim separatists, allowing them to maintain a well-armed private army that activists say has terrorised the public.


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is the main Muslim rebel group in Mindanao. Their insurgency has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the late 1970s, according to the military.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Gunmen seize 65 people in southern Philippines: army

In World on December 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Gunmen seized 65 schoolchildren, teachers and other residents of a village in the volatile southern Philippines on Thursday, then released 18 of them, authorities said.


Major Michelle Anayron, an army spokesman, told AFP a “criminal gang” abducted the group from San Martin village in Agusan del Sur province on Mindanao island.


Anayron said the suspects were members of the Perez Group, which he described as an “organised crime group” that is known to local police.


The area is a well-known hotbed of communist New People’s Army guerrillas, but Anayron said the Perez Group was not believed to have communist links.








File photo shows Philippine soldiers on patrol on Mindanao island, in the southern Philippines.

He gave no other details about the group.


Provincial police director Chief Superintendent Lino Calingasan said 18 of the captives were freed unharmed, 17 of whom were schoolchildren and the other a teacher, after eight hours in captivity.


“Negotiations are still continuing for the safe release of the other hostages,” Calingasan told reporters.


Mindanao is an extremely volatile part of the Southeast Asian archipelago, and makes up the southern third of the country.


Aside from communist fighters, Muslim rebels fighting for an independent homeland have waged an insurgency since the 1970s that has claimed more than 150,000 lives, according to the military.


Many other gangs with no affiliations to communists or Muslim rebels frequently engage in kidnappings for ransom and other crimes.


Martial law was imposed in another province on Mindanao last week after a political massacre there left 57 people dead.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share