Thursday 14 December 2017

Duterte offers bounty for extremists in foiled island attack

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is getting even tougher with the militants. (AP/Bullit Marquez)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is getting even tougher with the militants. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

The president of The Philippines has offered a bounty for the capture of Muslim extremists behind a foiled attack on a central resort island.

President Rodrigo Duterte also said he ordered the navy to bomb militants who travel by boat from their southern jungle camps in search of kidnapping victims.

Mr Duterte told reporters during a visit to central Bohol province on Wednesday that he was considering arming civilians there so they can help the government fight terrorists and drug suspects - adding he prefers outlaws to be dead rather than alive so he will not have to feed them in jail.

President Duterte visited Bohol a week after troops battled the Abu Sayyaf in fighting that left four militants, three soldiers, a policeman and two villagers dead.

Troops are hunting several extremists who escaped.

The one million peso (£16,000) reward is for information that would allow the military or police to capture the fleeing militants, Mr Duterte said.

He said that informants' identities would be kept confidential.

Military officials said the extremists travelled far from their jungle bases in southern Sulu province to carry out kidnappings for ransom and bombings for the first time in Bohol, a popular tourism destination for its white-sand beaches, waterfalls, caves and wildlife.

Asked what could be the specific target of the militants, President Duterte said they might be plotting to disrupt a two-day meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which started in Bohol's resort island of Panglao on Wednesday and "create a disaster for all of us".

Mr Duterte inspected several areas in Bohol and gave assurances the province is secure, saying: "We have more than enough officers to fight for one year, if need be, so you are safe."

The president warned the militants the government would now try to track them, including by satellite, to prevent them from venturing far from their southern island and create trouble elsewhere.


Press Association

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