Unconfirmed reports that key Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Philippines

A key leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), believed to have been involved in the Jan. 27 twin bombings of a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines, was killed in a military offensive in southern Sulu island. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019

Unconfirmed reports that key Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Philippines

  • Susukan belonged to one of the main ASG factions on the Sulu islands, commanded by Hatib Hajjan Sawadjaan
  • Authorities said Sawadjaan deployed the two alleged suicide bombers from Indonesia to carry out the attack on Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, which killed 23 people and wounded more than 100

MANILA: A key leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), believed to have been involved in the Jan. 27 twin bombings of a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines, was killed in a military offensive in southern Sulu island, authorities said on Thursday.
Maj. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) — Joint Task Force Sulu, said information had been received about Indang Susukan’s death.
However, the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), the police force that tracks the ASG, could not confirm the reports of Susukan’s death. “We’re still validating the information,” an AKG official told Arab News.
Susukan belonged to one of the main ASG factions on the Sulu islands, commanded by Hatib Hajjan Sawadjaan.
Authorities said Sawadjaan deployed the two alleged suicide bombers from Indonesia to carry out the attack on Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, which killed 23 people and wounded more than 100.
Following the bombings, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government troops to crush the ASG and other militant groups on the island of Mindanao.
On Feb. 2, the military engaged approximately 100 ASG members in a fierce gunbattle in the jungles of Patikul town in Sulu.
Five soldiers and three ASG gunmen were killed, while 18 were wounded from the government side and 15 from the group, including Susukan. According to intelligence reports, he succumbed to his wounds on Feb. 4.
Pabayo said an announcement will be made when the information is confirmed, adding that Susukan was linked to high-profile kidnapping cases.
AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Susukan was reported to have been seriously wounded during last week’s clash, and reports from various sources on the ground indicate that he eventually died due to the severity of his injuries.
“Notwithstanding these reports that tend to confirm each other, our troops in the area endeavor to locate his remains for us to conclusively report through a DNA test that he indeed is dead,” Arevalo said.
“His death, when conclusively established, deals a serious blow to the leadership of this terrorist group,” he added.
Susukan “is one of the ASG’s notorious sub-leaders who perpetrated many kidnappings, beheadings and other terrorist attacks, including the twin blast in Jolo Cathedral,” Arevalo said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said the cathedral bombing is considered solved with the surrender of the five main suspects.
“As far as the government is concerned, the Jolo bombing case is already solved ... As to the other conspirators, an intensive manhunt is now underway, and we will continue to pursue them until all those involved are brought to the bar of justice,” he added.
Ano said the bombers are an Indonesian couple, but identification is a work in progress that may take time.
“This is based on the post-blast and forensic investigation, statements from the survivors, and intelligence reports,” he added.


Germany urges ‘restraint’ after Turks and Kurds clash on streets

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago

Germany urges ‘restraint’ after Turks and Kurds clash on streets

BERLIN: German authorities on Tuesday appealed to Turkish and Kurdish communities to avoid echoing the Middle Eastern conflict, after clashes between the two groups over Ankara’s offensive in northeastern Syria.
Police said at least five people had been injured in fights between the two communities late on Monday.
“We have a responsibility to prevent the conflict in the region becoming a conflict in our society... in Germany,” integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz told the Funke newspaper group.
“I expect all sides, especially migrant organizations and religious communities, to take responsibility and contribute to restraint.”
The commissioner advises the government on integration and serves as a point of contact for migrants and community organizations.
The clashes happened as around 350 people marched through the western city of Herne on Monday protesting Turkey’s offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria, police said in a statement.
They were “provoked with hand signals” by people drinking at a nearby kiosk, the statement added.
“Some of them stormed into the kiosk, attacked two people inside and injured them” and they also broke a window.
The demonstration continued and someone threw a bottle at the marchers from a Turkish-owned cafe as they passed.
“The reaction was very emotional and angry” as several participants again rushed into the cafe, breaking windows and furniture and injuring at least one person inside, as well as a police officer who intervened.
Nevertheless, “the police were able to calm the situation.”
Among the five people hurt was the organizer of the march. He, too, was attacked when he tried to stop the violence.
Of the roughly three million people with Turkish nationality or roots living in Germany, around one million are Kurds.
Politicians regularly warn of tensions between the two communities, which have been stoked by Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters inside Syria.
“According to the 30-year-old Turkish citizen, the men had assaulted him because of the jacket he was wearing, which had a Turkish national flag on it,” a Berlin police statement said.
The leader of the Kurdish community in Germany, Ali Ertan Toprak, called Tuesday for calm.
“Our message is: do not let yourself be provoked. Do not react to provocations from the Turkish nationalist side,” he told Funke.
“If there are riots, it will harm our casue,” Toprak said. Kurds had “no interest in violence spreading on German streets.”
Turkish troops moved last Wednesday into the Syrian border zone controlled by Kurdish militias, which helped a Western-led coalition fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists but are accused of terrorism by Ankara.
Germany, along with European allies such as France, has condemned the offensive and halted arms exports to Turkey.