Philippine military confirms death of militant leader

This photo taken on March 8, 2018 shows Philippine soldiers standing next to their armoured personnel carriers as they man a checkpoint along a highway near the clash site between government troops and militants in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao. (AFP)
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Updated 31 October 2020

Philippine military confirms death of militant leader

  • Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama fatally wounded in clash with troops in Mindanao in early September
  • He was a close associate of the slain ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, who in 2016 was designated Daesh emir in the Philippines

MANILA: Military authorities on Friday confirmed the death of Furuji Indama, senior leader of the Daesh-affiliated Abu Sayyaf militant group based on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines.

Indama, who was wanted over his involvement in a string of deadly bombings and kidnappings, was fatally wounded in a clash with troops in Zamboanga Sibugay province, Mindanao, on Sept. 9, along with several other fighters.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan confirmed Indama’s death, adding: “We have been monitoring his family — they already know he is dead.”

Vinluan said that local officials have offered a cash reward to anyone who could pinpoint the location of Indama’s remains.

The militant leader is believed to have been buried on an island in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Vinluan said the ASG leader had sent text messages to relatives asking them to pray as he was severely wounded and “might not last long.”

The following day Indama’s cellphone “could no longer be reached.”

Idama’s death was announced following the killing of another faction member in a clash with government forces in Basilan province in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Indama was a close associate of the slain ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was designated as the Daesh emir of the Philippines in 2016.

BACKGROUND

Furuji Idama, who was wanted over his involvement in a string of deadly bombings and kidnappings, was fatally wounded in a clash with Philippine troops in Zamboanga Sibugay province, Mindanao, on Sept. 9, along with several other fighters.

After Hapilon was killed during the 2017 siege of Marawi City, Indama was touted as a likely replacement. However, a report by the US Department of Defense later named Sulu-based ASG leader Hadjan Sawadjaan as the new acting Daesh emir.

Indama is believed to have plotted a suicide bombing at a military checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan, that killed 11 people in 2018.

In April 2016, Hapilon and Indama led 150 Abu Sayyaf fighters in an attack on government forces in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, killing at least 18 soldiers and wounding more than 50 others.

Indama has been wanted for his involvement in the May 2001 kidnaping of 20 people, mostly foreigners, from the affluent Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

One of the hostages, a US national, Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded by his captors. Officials said the ASG leader’s death is expected to leave the militant group in disarray. Many members have recently surrendered to government forces.

In July, the military said that Sawadjaan had been killed, but his death remains unconfirmed.

 


Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

Updated 28 November 2020

Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

  • The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference

GLASGOW: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said she had “never been more certain” of achieving independence, with Britain’s final departure from EU trading arrangements set to precede key Scottish elections in the months ahead.

The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference that the prospect of a break between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been closer.

“Independence is in clear sight — and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it,” she said.

Sturgeon and the SNP have argued for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the party’s overwhelming victory among Scottish seats in Britain’s 2019 general election.

Now she hopes that a further resounding win in May elections to the Edinburgh parliament will hand her party a mandate for a second bid to quit the UK.

Opinion polls in recent months have shown that a majority of public opinion in Scotland now supports independence.

The country chose to remain part of the four-nation United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum on the issue.

But Scots later voted by a thumping majority in 2016 to remain in the European Union, a referendum the Leave side won by a narrow margin when taking the rest of Britain into account.

Since then, “we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election and support for independence has risen, it has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,” said Sturgeon.

“Who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures? We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources.

“Let us reach out to all Scotland like never before,” she added.

Sturgeon urged her party to “demonstrate ... that Scotland is ready to take our place in the global family of independent nations,” saying it was “now a nation on the brink of making history.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rebuffed calls from for a another referendum, saying that the 2014 vote settled the question for a generation.

Earlier this month, Scottish independence campaigners seized on comments by the prime minister in which he said the creation of a devolved parliament in Edinburgh had been “a disaster.”

In response Sturgeon said the only way to protect the parliament was “with independence.”

On Thursday, she said a referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the next parliamentary session.

“The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they and future generations deserve,” Sturgeon said on Saturday.