Philippine bomb wounds 22 soldiers

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 15:53

Isabela: A powerful booby trap
bomb wounded 22 Philippine soldiers, seven of them critically, as they patrolled a former stronghold of Al Qaeda-linked
militants Tuesday, the military said.

The soldiers were patrolling the outskirts of a remote camp captured last month from Abu Sayyaf extremists when the
device went off, local army commander Colonel Ricardo Visaya
said.

The Abu Sayyaf had formerly used the camp on the southern
island of Basilan, to hide many of their kidnap victims until
a large military assault dislodged the rebels in March, Visaya
said.

"The camp had a lot of improvised explosive devices
planted around it... to strengthen (the extremists`) defensive
position. They are very difficult to detect," he told AFP.

He described the device as an old booby trap left behind
by the Abu Sayyaf before they abandoned the camp and was set
off when soldiers tripped on it.

Helicopters were deployed to airlift the wounded to a
military hospital, Visaya said.

The heavily-forested island of Basilan is a known
stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a group founded with seed money
from Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

The group has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in
Philippine history and has frequently resorted to kidnapping
to raise funds, often targeting foreigners.

Seven foreigners -- a Dutchman, a Swiss national, an
Australian, two Malaysian traders, an Indian and a Japanese
man -- are believed to still be held by the Abu Sayyaf and
other outlawed groups in the south.

US troops have been based in the southern Philippines for
a decade to help train local soldiers in hunting the Abu
Sayyaf.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 15:53

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