Philippines arrests widow of slain militants

Philippine marines aboard an Amored Personnel Carrier (APC) and a truck guard a highway in Indanan town, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao on February 27, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Philippines arrests widow of slain militants

MANILA: The widow of two slain militant leaders has been arrested for allegedly supporting extremist groups and possessing firearms and explosives, Philippine police said Sunday.
Juromee Dongon was married to a senior leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group, Khadaffy Janjalani. After his death in 2006 she married Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in the Philippines, police said.
Authorities arrested Dongon along with her relatives in her home in Lanao del Norte province in the restive southern region of Mindanao where they found firearms, ammunition and bomb-making components, a police statement said.
“She assists, associates, networks and supports terrorist groups,” regional police spokesman Superintendent Lemuel Gonda told AFP.
“Juromee is linked with Abu Sayyaf during the time of Janjalani and then later Jemaah Islamiyah,” he added, referring to a Southeast Asian militant group.
Marwan was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people as well as in two deadly Philippine attacks.
He died in a raid in the southern Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The US had offered a $5 million bounty for him.
In two operations on Sunday, police arrested Dongon as well as her two sisters and father, Gonda said, adding the family had “connections with terrorists.”
The Dongons faced charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Abu Sayyaf is an extremist militant group which was set up in the 1990s with seed money from the Al-Qaeda network, and has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the Philippines’ history, including bombings.
The Abu Sayyaf had harbored JI militants in their bases in remote southern islands, including key suspects in the Bali bombings.
Security analysts have said widows of militant leaders played important roles in extremist groups as they enhanced the status of their second husbands.


Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

Updated 29 min 14 sec ago
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Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

  • At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists
  • More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape

NEW DELHI: Police have made a series of arrests in connection with the abduction and rape at gunpoint of five anti-trafficking campaigners in the central Indian state of Jharkhand early this week.

Khunti police station officials, where the incident happened, told Arab News that three people have been arrested, including the head of the school where the play was being performed. 

Police superintendent Ashwini Kumar Sinha said a leader of a local movement called Pathalgadi instigated the accused, saying that the play performers were against the movement and should be taught a lesson. 

Pathalgadi is a political movement whose followers recognize their village councils as the only sovereign authority and views all outsiders suspiciously.

Activists working in the area say the incident has left them shocked and worried for their safety.

Earlier this week, nine activists were abducted while performing a street play in Kochang village and driven into a forest, where they were beaten and the women raped.

The activists were from the nonprofit organization Asha Kiran, which runs a shelter in the Khunti district for young women rescued from trafficking. Activists say that while such incidents are rare, the abductions have shaken the community.

“There is definitely fear now,” said Rajan Kumar, of Sinduartola Gramodaya Vikas Vidyalaya, a nonprofit group campaigning against people trafficking in the district. 

“But people have to work. We need to do more to take members of the village council into our confidence.”

Rajiv Ranjan Sinha, of the Jharkhand Anti-Trafficking Network, a coalition of 14 organizations, said the incident has frightened everyone.

“We’ve never had to face this before,” Sinha said. “But it will definitely have an implication. New people will be scared to go into the field.”

On Saturday, several non-profit organizations called for a silent protest march at 10 a.m. in the state capital Ranchi on Sunday.

At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists and to take seriously the issue of violence against women.

“We are not only NGO workers, but we are female also,” a spokeswoman said. “There is a lot of fear among workers now.”

India has a poor record of sexual violence against women — at least 39,000 cases were reported in 2016, the latest government data available. Activists say many more incidents go unreported.

The country changed its rape laws and introduced Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences legislation after the rape and murder of a 19-year-old student in December 2012 in the Indian capital.

More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the northern state of Kashmir.

The girl was kidnapped, drugged and raped in a temple where she was held captive for several days before being beaten to death.