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Philippines awaits DNA tests to confirm if remains those of Abu Sayyaf chieftain

Philippines awaits DNA tests to confirm if remains those of Abu Sayyaf chieftain

The Philippine military is testing DNA samples to determine if remains found buried in the jungles of a southern island come from the chief of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, officials said Thursday.
Khaddafy Janjalani is on a U.S. list of wanted terrorists with a US$5 million (euro3.8 million) bounty on his head for a series of alleged beheadings, bombings and mass abductions.
Janjalani and his men have eluded authorities in the dense jungles and mangroves of the southern Philippines. Earlier reports of his death had proved to have been premature.
An informant pointed to a grave where the decomposing remains were found buried in a remote neighborhood near Patikul town on Jolo island, military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon told reporters.
Janjalani was believed to have been killed in a Sept. 4 clash with marines, said Lt. Col. Ariel Caculitan, the Philippine marines spokesman.
"We have exhumed the cadaver, which is in the advanced state of decomposition," Esperon said. "But we could not confirm who that is."
He said Philippine police were bringing the samples to a Manila laboratory for DNA testing, while American forces in the south will do their own test separately.
Esperon could not say when the results would be ready, but Caculitan said it may take weeks.
Caculitan said former Abu Sayyaf members who had surrendered helped troops find the site and claimed Janjalani had been shot in the neck. They said he had been carried "dying" to the burial site two kilometers (more than a mile) away.
"If you look at the terrain ... it would not be easy to locate the site without reliable information," Caculitan said.
U.S.-backed Philippine troops launched an offensive on Jolo in August, searching for Janjalani and two associates, top Indonesian terror suspects Dulmatin and Umar Patek. Dulmatin, who goes by one name, and Patek are suspects in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people and allegedly have provided bomb-making training to Indonesian and Filipino guerrillas.
Caculitan said the Sept. 4 gunbattle left six marines dead, and that the troops believed they had killed a number of Abu Sayyaf fighters.
Janjalani and his key commanders have been charged with several deadly attacks in the Philippines, including a 2004 bombing that gutted a ferry, killing 116 people in one of Southeast Asia's worst terrorist strikes.
They also carried out a mass yearlong kidnapping in 2001 that left several hostages dead, including two Americans. The abduction sparked an influx of U.S. military counterterrorism trainers who have been credited with helping the Philippine military devastate the Abu Sayyaf.
Still, the group has shown itself to be resilient. Abu Sayyaf guerrillas were suspected of carrying out three recent bombings in the south, including one that killed six people and wounded 29 on Oct. 10.
Esperon cautioned that Janjalani's death would not mean the end of the Abu Sayyaf, but was a major setback.
The military estimates the guerrillas have about 400 members, splintered into groups of 20-40, most of them within Patikul town.


Updated : 2021-08-02 20:05 GMT+08:00