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Cablegate: Armed Clashes On Jolo Leave at Least 26 Philippine

VZCZCXRO6980
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2714 2221007
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101007Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7816
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 002714

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS RP
SUBJECT: ARMED CLASHES ON JOLO LEAVE AT LEAST 26 PHILIPPINE
SOLDIERS DEAD


1. (SBU) Summary. The security situation in Jolo remains
fluid with at least 26 Philippine soldiers killed and over 19
wounded since August 7 during armed clashes with the
terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group as operations against high value
terrorists continue. The military claims to have killed 27
militants. The recent fighting has displaced over 4,300
persons and there is growing concern that the number of
evacuees could increase as fighting continues. Charge
offered condolences to Palace Executive Secretary Ermita, who
described armed clashes on Jolo as unrelated to the July 10
ambush and beheadings on the nearby island of Basilan, and
affirmed that despite the tragic loss of life, military
operations on Jolo would continue. End Summary.

2. (SBU) At least 26 Philippine soldiers have been killed
and over 20 wounded since August 7 during armed clashes with
the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and rogue elements of the Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF) near Indanan, Parang, and
Maimbung, Jolo. According to Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao Department of Social Work and Development Secretary
Racma Imam, over 4,300 persons have been displaced since
August 7. Imam expressed concern that the number of evacuees
could grow as fighting continues.

3. (SBU) Charge offered condolences to Palace Executive
Secretary Ermita August 10 on the loss of Philippine soldiers

SIPDIS
engaged in a tough fight against terrorists on Jolo island.
Ermita appreciated the affirmation of U.S. support, and said
he would convey U.S. sentiments to new Defense Secretary
Gilbert Teodoro and armed forces Chief of Staff General
Esperon. Ermita described the recent armed clashes on Jolo
as "completely unrelated" to the July 10 Basilan incident.
Despite the tragic loss of life, commented Ermita, military
operations on Jolo will continue.

4. (SBU) The military task force commander on Jolo, Major
General Ruben Rafael, suspects ASG members under Radullah
Sahiron, Albader Parad, and Abu Pula are among those involved
in the attacks. MNLF vice chairman Hatimil Hassan claimed to
the press that elements of the MNLF were responsible for one
of the armed encounters near Maimbung August 9 that left ten
Philippine soldiers dead. We are seeking independent
confirmation of that claim of responsibility.


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
JONES

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