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Nation


BY , Reporter 


Wanted bomber still in Sulu, says officer


ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A military officer confirmed yesterday that Umar Patek, a
known Indonesian bomber, is still in the island-province of Sulu aided by
homegrown terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. 

Lt. Gen. Benjamin D. Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief,
said intelligence reports said Umar Patek is still hiding on one of the
islands that surround Sulu, which is known as a bandit stronghold.

"Ever since, he has been hiding there," he told BusinessWorld.

The reaction came as Indonesia-based terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail
claimed that Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who are leaders of the Jemaah
Islamiyah group, returned to Indonesia in recent months.

Umar Patek and Dulmatin were tagged in the deadly bombing in the Indonesia
resort-island of Bali that killed nearly 200 mostly foreign tourists in
2002.

For years, both terrorist leaders were reported to have sought refuge in
Mindanao under the watch of the Abu Sayyaf.

But last week, Indonesian authorities successfully neutralized Dulmatin,
along with his two bodyguards, during a raid in a small Internet café in
Aceh.

In a report posted at the Jakarta Post Web site, Ismail, who is also
director of the Institute for International Peace Building, said that both
terrorist leaders "traveled from Mindanao."

But this was refuted by Indonesian National Police detective chief Ito
Sumardi, saying that Umar Patek has not left Mindanao.

Mr. Dolorfino said they have yet to get an official word from Indonesian
authorities on recent developments.

"So far, we have not received information that Patek went out of the
country," he said. "Our operations… are continuing."

The military has recently raided one of the Abu Sayyaf lairs in Siasai, also
in Sulu, resulting in the killing of five persons believed to be bandits.

Lt. Esteffani A. Cacho, WestMinCom spokesman, said the raid was launched
following information that some members of the Jemaah Islamiyah were hiding
with Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Benhur.

Abu Benhur has been earlier reported as coddling Jemaah Islamiyah bomber
Marwan, who is believed hiding in one of the islets in Sulu, said Brig.
General Rustico O. Guerrero, military commander of the anti-terrorist Joint
Task Force Comet.

The killing of Dulmatin and Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad last month have
resulted in both Indonesian and Philippine authorities claiming success in
counterterrorism efforts. -- Darwin T. Wee 

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