Alexa

Military: Philippine rebel groups weakened in 2010

Military: Philippine rebel groups weakened in 2010

Battle setbacks, surrenders and casualties have weakened the Philippines' al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels, cutting the number of terrorist attacks this year, and also thinned the ranks of a separate communist insurgency, the military said Friday.
The underfunded Philippine military, one of Asia's weakest, has been battling the communist New People's Army, which has been waging a Marxist rebellion nationwide for 42 years. It also fights at least three major Muslim rebel groups, including the Abu Sayyaf, in the country's impoverished south.
Communist rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants, who have carried out deadly attacks on Americans, have been blacklisted by Washington as terrorists.
Philippine troops captured or killed 51 Abu Sayyaf gunmen this year, cutting their active fighters to 340 with 296 firearms, the military said in a year-end report.
Among those killed was Albader Parad, a young and ruthless Abu Sayyaf commander blamed for beheading several of his hostages on southern Jolo island,.
The setbacks, along with continuing U.S.-backed offensives, have reduced Abu Sayyaf attacks to 29 compared to last year's 54, the military said.
The militants, who have received Al-Qaida training and funds in the past, have remained without a central leader following the killings of its top commanders. They have been blamed for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and deadly bombings.
The communist New People's Army's strength dropped by 591 men to 4,111 fighters as of November, mostly because of surrenders, including eight ranking leaders from the main northern Luzon island, southern Davao region and the central islands of Panay and Negros, the year-end report said.
The Maoist rebels had a peak strength of 25,000 fighters during dictator Ferdinand Marcos's rule in the mid-1980s but have since struggled after the Cold War era with the loss of foreign support, factionalism, surrenders and battle losses, the military said.
Communist rebel-influenced villages decreased by 60 to 1,017 due to combat operations and the military's charm offensive, military spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos said.
A regional rebel spokesman, Jorge Madlos, denied the military statement, saying the number of guerrillas grew nationwide. In southern Mindanao region, where he is based, Madlos said the number of guerrillas increased by about 30 percent because of new recruits although he acknowledged some fighters left for health and other personal reasons.
Madlos declined to give specific figures.
About 80 guerrillas, brandishing assault rifles and grenade launchers, defiantly marched in a remote farming village in southern Surigao del Sur province on Sunday as more than 2,000 villagers and supporters watched to mark the 42nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has overseen the rural-based insurgency, one of Asia's longest-running.
During the ceremony, Madlos said rebel attacks on troops would continue despite a planned resumption of peace talks in February in Norway, which has brokered the negotiations in the past.