MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine police commandos killed three Islamist militants, including the brother of a top Muslim rebel leader, during a raid on a remote southern island, the head of national police said on Sunday.
Jesus Verzosa said police commandos stormed before dawn on Sunday the jungle lairs of al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants near Maimbung town on Jolo island, where Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was believed hiding.
“Our boys killed three Islamist militants during the raid, but, we’re not sure whether the Malaysian Jemaah Islamiah (JI) leader was in the area during the assault,” Verzosa said, adding guns, munitions and important papers were seized in the hideout.
“I have placed all our forces in the south under full alert because we’re anticipating retaliations from the local rebels. We’re hardening the soft targets in the south.”
The brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail, alias Abu Pula, was among those killed in the attack, Verzosa said. Jumdail and Marwan are among top Islamist militants in Southeast Asia wanted by the U.S. State Department.
The 300-member Abu Sayyaf group has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in the troubled south of the mainly Catholic state. Since 2002, U.S. troops have been helping train and advise Filipino troops fight Islamist militants in the south.
Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Sugita Katyal