Bali bomber hurt in Filipino gunfight
Emma-Kate Symons, Jolo Island, Southern Philippines
January 26, 2007 With thanks to The Australian
SOUTHEAST Asia’s most wanted terrorist, Bali bomb mastermind Dulmatin, has been wounded in a fierce gunfight on remote Jolo Island in a significant win for US-backed Philippines forces battling to “eliminate” the Jemaah Islamiah kingpin and his Abu Sayyaf cronies.
The Australian, in a series of interviews with the top Philippines and US commanders in the southern Philippines, has also learned that Dulmatin, along with his JI Bali bomber partner Patek, are on the run for their lives on Jolo. The pair spend no longer than six hours in one place on the jungle-covered volcanic island.
According to Philippines Brigadier-General Ruben Rafael, they have even resorted to sporting wigs and burkas to evade 6000 troops hunting them.
Dulmatin, who has a $US10million ($13 million) bounty on his head, has hidden two of his children away on the nearby island of Basilan, probably with the widow of Abu Sayyaf founder Abburajak Janjalani, one commander said.
However, he is unable to leave Jolo to see them because of intense coastguard surveillance and regular reconnaissance flights by US Orion spy planes.
“Dulmatin is here till he dies,” Captain Abdurassad Sirajan, of the 104th Brigade of the Philippines army, in Jolo, told The Australian. “His assignment is to lead the Abu Sayyaf group – that is why he was sent here from Indonesia.”
JI, the Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qa’ida, is aligned to the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf.