viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

Filipinas: Ampliación del campo de la batalla (2)

Es muy escasa la cobertura periodística occidental sobre los sucesos recientes en las Filipinas. Allí se están consolidando una serie de grupos terroristas islámicos, algunos nativos, otros procedentes de Indonesia y, tal vez de algunos de los frentes de Medio Oriente. Parece que el Imperio le bajó el pulgar, finalmente, al presidente filipino Rodrigo Duterte. La primera nota que posteamos es del diario británico The Telegraph

Título: Philippines troops backed by attack helicopters battle Islamist militants in besieged southern city

Texto: Troops backed by attack helicopters battled dozens of militants linked to the Islamic State group holed up in a besieged city in the southern Philippines on Thursday after attempts to secure volatile areas met heavy resistance.

Army tanks packed with soldiers rolled into the mainly Muslim Marawi City as gunfire and explosions rang out after militants linked to the Islamic State group torched buildings, seized more than a dozen Catholic hostages and raised the black flag of Isil.

The army sent about 100 soldiers, including US-trained special forces, to retake buildings and streets in the area held by militants of the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Thousands fled as rebels seized large parts of the city in running battles with government forces that erupted on Tuesday afternoon after a failed raid by security forces on one of the group's hideouts.

At least 21 people have died in fighting since Tuesday, when the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists and has a $5 million bounty on his head.

The operation went wrong as the militants called in reinforcements and swept through the mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people. Hapilon's whereabouts were not clear, but there was no indication he was captured in the raid.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern third of the nation - home to some 22 million people - and warned he may expand it nationwide.

He vowed to be "harsh."

"If I think that you should die, you will die," he said Wednesday. "If you fight us, you will die. If there is open defiance, you will die. And if it means many people dying, so be it."

As details of the attack in Marawi city emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Thousands of people were fleeing the city Thursday, jamming their belongings into cars. Plumes of black smoke rose in the distance and two air force helicopters could be seen flying over the city center.

Mohammad Usman, a 49-year-old Marawi resident, said some people are likely trapped with no way out.

"At night we can hear the gunfire. I'm just praying that the bullets will not find its way to my house and hit us," he said as he left the city. "I hope that the bombs will not land nearby and harm us."

Although much of the city is sealed off, disturbing details were trickling out.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded. Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said the militants erected Islamic State flags at several locations.

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.

Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly. He has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law.

But human rights groups have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, whom they have accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) group in 2014. He is a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group and was wounded by a military airstrike in January.

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the Islamic State group.

At least one of those smaller groups, the Maute, was involved in the Marawi siege. It's one of less than a dozen new armed Muslim groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and formed a loose alliance, with Hapilon reportedly designated as the alliance's leader.

Political analyst Ramon Casiple said the Maute is a clan-based group with members in Marawi who came to Hapnilon's assistance, with some directly assisting in the fighting and others fanning out to different parts of the city, setting up checkpoints and burning some buildings and taking hostages from the cathedral.

"It is difficult to root out because they are from there," he said. "The Mautes are embedded in the population."

The group has been blamed for a bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, Duterte's hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

Last month, troops backed by airstrikes killed dozens of Maute militants and captured their jungle camp near Lanao del Sur's Piagapo town. Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp, the military said.


La nota que sigue es de Sputnik News:

Título: Daesh Invasion: Foreign Jihadists Repel Army Attacks in the Philippines

Subtítulos: Daesh-linked militants are making a violent push toward their aspiration of creating an Islamic State province in Southeast Asia / The Philippines is officially under “invasion” by terrorists, the government said Friday.

Texto: Three-fourths of Marawi City, a city of 200,000 on the southern island of Mindanao, has been overrun by the Islamic extremist Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf group, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said in a letter to the nation’s congress on Friday. Terrorists seized control of a municipal jail and unshackled its prisoners, razed a hospital and took possession of at least three bridges, according to the memo.

​They are also suspected of having hunted down Christians in the Muslim-majority city to use as human shields, religious leaders told Reuters.

The current death toll has reached at least 42 people, the military said. 

The Maute group has proven itself to be an effective combat gang able to withstand asymmetric use of force by government troops. Now Abu Sayyaf, known to be linked to Daesh, has joined forces with Maute in an attempt to occupy the Philippines, according to Philippine intelligence. The unified paramilitary group’s leader, Isnilon Hapilon, is a Daesh loyalist who was tapped by foreign terrorists to lead the raid on the Philippines, the Express reported. In 2005, the US Treasury Department seized Hapilon’s assets for suspected terrorist activities and association with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

On Tuesday, security personnel conducted a raid on Hapilon’s suspected hideout. The situation quickly backfired, however, and resulted in failure when more Daesh-linked militants were summoned as reinforcements. The same day, the pitch-black Daesh flag began waving over the city, Duetsche Welle reports.

"Before it was just a local terrorist group," Solicitor General Jose Calida told reporters. But now, Malaysians and Indonesians who can’t get to the Middle East have entered the fray closer to home. The situation has evolved to the point where militants "want to make Mindanao part of the caliphate," Calida added, referring to Daeshe’s goal of establishing a caliphate in the Middle East. The official also expressed concern that the jihadist ideology is spreading among Filipino Muslim youth.

Manila has deployed Special Forces, armored vehicle battalions and attack choppers following Duterte’s declaration of martial law earlier in the week. "If there’s an open defiance, you will die," the brash president said, adding, "If it means many people dying, so be it."

Placing the entire island under martial law, which Duterte has suggested might be his next step, has drawn criticism. Duterte’s attempts to extend power are “alarming” and “grossly unnecessary,” activist Bernadette Ellorin told Loud & Clear on Radio Sputnik.

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