Philippines raises alert after Abu Sayyaf attack: Palace

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 28 2010 05:40 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2010 01:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines on Sunday placed its military in the south on heightened alert to prevent more attacks by Al Qaeda-linked militants who killed 11 people in a pre-dawn raid the previous day.

Troops were put on "heightened alert" especially in the islands of Basilan and Jolo, where the Abu Sayyaf group operates, presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said in a statement.

President Gloria Arroyo also ordered the military "to undertake measures to account for the perpetrators and at the same time extend assistance to the families" of the victims, Olivar said.

Abu Sayyaf militants killed a government militiaman and 10 civilians in Saturday's attack on the town of Maluso on Basilan. The victims were sleeping when their homes were strafed by bullets and the buildings were later torched. Seventeen other people were hurt.

The incident came hours after the military recovered three Chinese factory workers seized by the Abu Sayyaf over three months ago. It also came after a string of victories by security forces against the Abu Sayyaf, including the capture of a top bomb maker and the killing of one of the group's commanders last week.

Olivar said the military was under instructions to stop further attacks that the group might launch to avenge its losses.

Founded in the early 1990s with money from Osama bin Laden, the Abu Sayyaf is blamed for a series of bombings and kidnappings that have targeted foreign missionaries, Christians, and US military advisers based in the south.

Abu Sayyaf has also carried out the worst terrorist attacks in Philippine history, including the 2004 bombing of a passenger ferry, which killed over 100 people. The group is on the US government's list of wanted foreign terrorist organizations.