The Philippine military says it has killed three of southeast Asia's top Islamist militants in a U.S.-backed air raid on the remote southern island of Jolo.
The three terrorist leaders have been identified as Umbra Jumdail, a leader in the Abu Sayyaf group, and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdullah Ali.
Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian national also known as Marwan, carried a $5 million reward for his capture offered by the United States.
Ali was a Singaporean national who went by the alias Muawiyah.
A spokesman for the Philippine military, Marcelo Arnulfo Burgos, said a total of 15 members of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah groups were killed in the early morning attack.
"This is a big blow on the part of the Abu Sayyaf Group and with links to the Jemaah Islamiyah. Our troops on the ground together with the PNP [Philippine National Police] have confirmed the death of fifteen ASG [Abu Sayyaf Group] and J.I. [Jemaah Islamiyah] members, including Muawiyah, Doctor Abu and Marwan," Burgos said.
Philippine military officials say the attack was planned based on intelligence that about 30 militants figures were stationed in a Jolo village.
About 600 U.S. special forces have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002, providing support for the country's counterterrorism efforts.
Abu Sayyaf is responsible for a series of recent abductions in the southern Philippines, where Muslim rebels have been fighting government forces for self-rule since the 1970s.
The Jemaah Islamiyah network has been blamed for a series of terrorist attacks across Asia, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
Article by VOA News