March 26, 2009:
There have been several bomb and grenade explosions in the south in the last week, but most, or all, of them appear to be related to extortion efforts or private feuds. The south has always been a violent place, with tribal militias and criminal gangs fighting each other. The one attack that appears to be the work of terrorists, was a bomb set off on a pedestrian overpass in Kidapawan City in Mindanao. Seven people were injured and a hole was blown in the concrete of the footbridge. No one, however, took credit for this attack.
On Jolo, the army has cut off supplies to the village where the three Red Cross captives are being held. The kidnappers and their captives are surrounded, and the army wants to free the captives before the unstable Abu Sayyaf kidnappers kill them. Abu Sayyaf wants a large (multi-million dollar) ransom, and the Red Cross is willing to facilitate that, but the government refuses to allow it. The cash would just go to fund more banditry and terrorists. That has been learned the hard way over the last decade. Islamic clerics and religious scholars in the south have condemned the recent kidnappings. But as long as there is a chance of getting a big ransom, Moslem outlaws will keep trying.
The government and the MILF continue to haggle over how political power, and money, will be shared in the south.
March 21, 2009: On Jolo, Abu Sayyaf kidnappers reneged on their promise to release a Red Cross captive if the troops pulled back. Abu Sayyaf now says they want the troops to move further back.
March 19, 2009: On Basilan island, one marine was killed and five wounded, during an attempt to free a man who had been kidnapped by a gang of Abu Sayyaf and rogue MILF members.
March 18, 2009: Abu Sayyaf has threatened to murder and behead one of the Red Cross captives if the army does not back off. The rebels promised to release one of their captives if the troops pulled back (which would give the terrorists a better chance to escape, or at least smuggle in supplies.)
March 17, 2009: Someone, probably the MILF, blew up an electricity transmission in the south, cutting power to six provinces on Mindanao island.
March 16, 2009: On Jolo island, in the south, troops tried to rescue three Red Cross employees held captive by Abu Sayyaf, but failed. Three soldiers and two terrorists were killed, and items belonging to the captives were recovered.
March 13, 2009: In the south, Islamic terrorists kidnapped three Christina school teachers, letting a fourth, who was Moslem, go.