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Philippine airstrike kills at least 15 militants

Feb. 2, 2012 at 12:47 PM   |   Comments

MANILA, Philippines, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- At least 15 Islamist extremists were killed Thursday when the Philippine military bombed a terrorist hideout on the island of Sulu, officials said.

In the attack, conducted with aid from an unmanned U.S. drone spy plane, two military planes struck the hideout and those killed included three senior terrorist leaders, PhilippineInquirer.net reported.

The senior leaders killed were identified as Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail, also known as Abu Pula, and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders Zulkifli bin Hir and Abdullah Ali, who uses the guerrilla name Muawiyah Anjala, military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said.

Jumdail was a founder and one of the highest-ranking figures in Abu Sayyaf, established in Mindanao in the 1990s with seed money from al-Qaida.

Zulkifli was a Malaysian leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant organization blamed for deadly Southeast Asia terrorist attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people. He was also leader of JI in the Philippines, Burgos said. The United States had offered a $5 million reward for Zulkifli's capture.

Muawiyah was a Singaporean JI member who fled to the Philippines after the Bali bombings, a Philippine military intelligence officer said.

Burgos said the airstrikes came after civilian tips Abu Sayyaf and JI members were in the area.

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