Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018

Philippine rebels declare holiday truce, government says won’t be fooled

  • Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays

MANILA: Maoist rebels in the Philippines declared a cease-fire on Friday for the Christmas and New Year holidays, but the government said it would not be fooled into joining the truce.
Guerrillas from the Communist Party of the Philippines have been battling government forces for 50 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
The party said in a statement it would suspend attacks on the military from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 “in unity with the Filipino people’s observance of traditional holidays.”
Most people in the Philippines are Christian.
The rebels also declared a New Year cease-fire from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rejected the offer, saying that for the first time in 30 years, the government would not suspend offensive military operations over the holidays.
“We’re fooling ourselves about this cease-fire,” Lorenzana told reporters.
“What for? To give them freedom to regroup and to refurbish so that after the cease-fire, we’ll be fighting again.”
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said government forces did not want to give the rebels the opportunity to “propagandize,” and would not stop combat operations.
The rebel forces, estimated to number 3,000 fighters, have been waging a guerrilla war in rural areas for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Rebel attacks have stifled growth in resource-rich areas in the poor Southeast Asian country as guerrillas target mines, plantations, construction and telecommunication companies, demanding “revolutionary taxation” to finance their fight.
Since 1986, the government has been holding on-again, off-again talks with Maoist rebels, brokered by Norway, but President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped negotiations last year due to rebel attacks and taxation.


Afghan security forces confirm killing of top Al-Qaeda leader

Updated 26 October 2020

Afghan security forces confirm killing of top Al-Qaeda leader

  • Egyptian national Abu Muhsin Al-Masri was on the US most wanted terrorists list
  • Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said he was killed in a special operation in Ghazni province

KABUL: Afghan security forces have confirmed the killing of a senior Al-Qaeda leader in Ghazni province, eastern Afghanistan, prompting the country's president to accuse the Taliban of having links with the terrorist network.

Egyptian national Abu Muhsin Al-Masri, alias Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, was on the US list of most wanted terrorists. The US issued a warrant for his arrest in December 2018.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a tweet late on Saturday said that Al-Masri was killed “in a special national security operation.”

Following the announcement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused the Taliban of having links with the terrorist group.

"The killing of this significant leader of Al-Qaeda's terroristic network proves that there is still the threat of terrorism and Taliban have ties with terrorists," he said on Sunday afternoon.

According to NDS sources in Kabul and Ghazni, he was one of the most senior leaders of Al-Qaeda.

“Al-Masri was one of the most senior Al-Qaeda authorities and was a financial and logistical facilitator of the network and had meaningful ties with Taliban,” the source in Kabul said on condition of anonymity.

He added that an Afghan affiliate of Al-Masri was arrested during the raid.

An NDS officer in Ghazni said that Al-Masri was killed in Andar district, where scores of foreign militants have settled in recent years and have been “protected by the Taliban.”

The Taliban deny the claim.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News that Al-Qaeda has had “no ties with the Taliban” since the historic US-Taliban peace accord in late February. In accordance with the deal, the Taliban pledged to sever ties with foreign militants and deter them from using territories under the group’s control.

The US invaded Afghanistan and in late 2001 ousted the Taliban government, which refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders accused of being behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that killed 3,000 Americans.

The terrorist network has been decimated over the years, but US officials believe its fighters are still operating in Afghanistan and some have deep ties with the Taliban.

Al-Masri’s reported killing comes a year after the NDS announced that in a joint raid with US troops it had killed Asim Omar, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. Omar was reportedly killed in southern Helmand province — a Taliban stronghold.

A former Afghan spy master, Rahumatullah Nabil, in a tweet said that Al-Masri and some other members of Al-Qaeda were frequently traveling between Ghazni and other parts of Afghanistan and a tribal region in Pakistan’s north in recent months.

The head of the US National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chris Miller, confirmed Al-Masri’s death in a statement, saying that his “removal” was “a major setback to a terrorist organization that is consistently experiencing strategic losses facilitated by the United States and its partners.”

According to Afghan analysts, however, a replacement for Al-Masri will soon be found within the terrorist group’s ranks.

“The killing will have some impact on the network’s activities and the war in Afghanistan, but not a drastic one as new leaders will jump up to fill the gap,” security analyst Ahmad Saeedi told Arab News.

The development comes as an uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar to yield a lasting peace and end decades of conflict in the war-torn country. 

At least 20 people were killed at an educational center Kabul on Saturday, hours after a roadside bomb killed nine civilians east of Kabul. Officials blamed the Taliban for the roadside attack.