Posted by: JWP | 12/17/2009

Wave of terror rocks already lawless region

Malaysian Insider

MANILA, Dec 17 — Lawlessness has long terrorised Mindanao and other islands in the volatile southern Philippines, but the killings and kidnappings that made international headlines over recent weeks have been especially traumatic for the population there.

The crimes painfully exposed how armed groups of various stripes were able to exploit weak governance and law enforcement in a poor region awash with illegal firearms, say security analysts.

Last month’s election-related massacre in Maguindanao province continues to unravel as more members of the powerful Ampatuan clan — blamed for the killings to protect their threatened power base — are charged with murder and rebellion. The clan is blamed for the mass execution of 57 civilians.

After a spate of kidnappings on Basilan Island, a hot spot of extremist violence, civic leaders appealed to President Gloria Arroyo to put the province under martial law, as she did for a week in Maguindanao in the massacre’s aftermath. Then, on Sunday, gunmen raided Basilan’s main jail, freeing 31 prisoners, including three Muslim separatist rebels and 10 members of the Abu Sayyaf terror group.

“All these incidents reflect the worsening armed violence in Mindanao, caused by weak law enforcement and aggravated by the proliferation of firearms,” said Professor Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.

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Malaysia should pay up @ Inquirer

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