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MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, February 3, admitted that it still has not seen the bodies of top terrorists they reportedly killed in an air raid in Sulu on Thursday.
But “they are confirmed to be dead,” AFP spokesman Col Arnulfo Burgos Jr told Rappler, referring to ASG commander Umbra Jumdail aka “Dr Abu,” and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders Zulkipli bin Abdul Hir aka “Marwan” and Muhamda Ali aka “Muawiya.”
They were among the 15 bandits who were reported to have died during the military’s aerial bombings in Barangay Duyan Kabau, Parang, Sulu.
On Friday, the AFP released a list of names supposedly of 8 other bandits who were killed in the attack. They are Moammar Jumdail aka “Ting” (supposedly a son of Dr Abu), Tati Jamhali, alias “Leong,” alias “Teng,” alias “Muin,” alias “Julpe,” alias “Jumong,” and Tuan Nash Lipae.
Burgos conceded that the government does not have custody of the bodies of the slain terrorists. He insisted though that the military in Sulu has “very reliable assets” who could attest to the identities of the dead.
When pressed to establish the credibility of the assets, Burgos said, “we can’t tell you since that may compromise our operations in the area.” He added: “But we are soliciting the assistance of the local community and the families of the victims in locating the whereabouts of the cadavers so we can conduct DNA testing on them.”
A police intelligence source claimed that Marwan and Muawiya were apparently not on the list of cadavers identified by their “own assets” in Sulu.
A Rappler source also claimed that a local leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), “who immediately went to the attack site,” identified a number of the cadavers but insisted Marwan and Muawiya were not among those killed.
This is not the first time that both Dr Abu and Marwan were reported to have been killed in a military operation in Sulu.
In October last year, the AFP also claimed that the 2 terrorist leaders died, along with 3 other bandits, in an airstrike and ground assault.
A police report leaked to the media hours after the Parang attack on Thursday said that a high-tech, unmanned aerial surveillance system was used to track and “positively identify” the targets, reviving concerns that US forces based in Western Mindanao could have assisted in the operation.
The US military maintains at least 500 personnel in Mindanao who are tasked to train Filipino troops and conduct humanitarian assistance.
“Ever since, the US soldiers have no direct participation in AFP combat operations,” Burgos pointed out. “We are very aware that this is against the law of the land.”
According to Burgos, part of the US training includes “technical assistance” as well as “sharing intelligence information” with the AFP. – Rappler.com