Philippine police: 4 wives of Abu Sayyaf commanders arrested

Suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member Abuhair Kullim Indal, center, is escorted to a police car after being presented to reporters at Camp Crame police headquarters in metropolitan Manila, Philippines, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 16 April 2019

Philippine police: 4 wives of Abu Sayyaf commanders arrested

  • The women were arrested in raids on houses in southern Zamboanga city

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines: Philippine police on Tuesday arrested four women they said were wives of Abu Sayyaf commanders who took care of their financial transactions, helped procure guns and bomb parts and arranged the travels of foreign militants to the country.
The women were arrested in raids on houses in southern Zamboanga city where authorities seized two grenades, a bag of suspected ammonium nitrate and electrical parts that can be used in making bombs, police officials said.
The women worked under Abu Sayyaf leader Hajjan Sawadjaan, the main suspect in the Jan. 27 bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral during a Mass that killed 23 people in nearby Sulu province’s capital town of Jolo. The cathedral attack by two suspected suicide bombers sparked the latest military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.
“The women are the wives of Abu Sayyaf group leaders,” a police report said without identifying the militant husbands of the women. They “are being utilized by the ASG for their financial transactions, procurement and transportation of firearms and explosives and the facilitation of recruitment and travel of foreign fighters to the Philippines,” it said.
Sawadjaan has been regarded as the current leader of small armed groups aligned with the Daesh group in the southern Philippines, homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation. Police officials suspect he may be harboring at least one more potential suicide attacker, an Arab militant, in his jungle encampment near mountainous Ptikul town in Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the US and Philippine governments for deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings, is estimated to have 200-300 fighters. It has been weakened by battle losses and surrenders but remains a national security threat.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 39 min 40 sec ago

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.