Feel-good story of the day.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine military said it killed Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorist and two other senior militants Thursday in a U.S.-backed air strike that would mark one of the region's biggest anti-terror successes in recent years.
Philippine troops did not immediately recover bodies from the dawn strike targeting a militant stronghold on a southern Philippine island, but military spokesman Col. Marcelo Burgos said the dead included Malaysian Zulkifi bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top leader of the regional, al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network.
Also killed in the strike were the leader of the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militants, Umbra Jumdail, and a Singaporean leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, Abdullah Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah, Burgos said.
Forensic investigators could not immediately approach the heavily-forested mountain camp hit in the strike because the area remains under the control of another rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace pact with the government in 1996, said regional military commander Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes.
He said that no one was captured following Thursday's airstrike and that some militants escaped and then returned to retrieve the bodies of those who died. It is unclear if they also recovered the bodies of the three leaders, he said.
About 30 militants were in the camp near Parang town on Jolo Island, the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf and their allies from the mostly Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah, when it was bombarded by two OV10 aircraft at 3 a.m., Coballes said.
"Our report is there were at least 15 killed, including their three leadership," he said. "This is a deliberate, fully planned attack coming from our forces."