MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Southeast Asian militant is suspected of leading an ambush that killed an army intelligence officer in the southern Philippines, Philippine military officials said Wednesday, highlighting the danger still posed by foreign militants who have been on the run from U.S.-backed counterterrorist offensives.
Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen with Amin Baco, a young terror suspect believed to be from either Indonesia or Malaysia, killed one of three army intelligence officers who traveled by motorcycle to remote Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan province Tuesday to check the reported presence of armed men near a village, army brigade commander Col. Carlito Galvez said.
Shortly after the ambush, Baco's group fled and clashed briefly with other army troops near a river in Ungkaya Pukan before escaping into a jungle, an army report said, adding that reinforcement troops aboard a truck and van helped pursue the militants but lost sight of them.
Baco is one of several Southeast Asian terror suspects who have taken refuge over the years in the southern strongholds of local militants mainly from the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, passing on bomb-making and combat skills and helping plot attacks. But years of military offensives have weakened and kept the Filipino militants and their foreign allies on the run.