Australian troops will soon join the fight against Islamist militants in the Philippines. Exercises are planned in a region dubbed a "heartland" of Al Qaeda-linked fighters.
The United States already has forces deployed in the Philippines, reportedly hunting down militants liked to the Bali bomings and Jamaah Islamiah "kingpins"
From news.com.au (excerpts) :
Australia will send troops to strife-torn central Mindanao in the southern Philippines under a landmark defence agreement designed to upgrade Canberra's role in the regional fight against Islamist terrorism.
As US-backed Philippines forces close in on Bali bombers and Jemaah Islamiah kingpins Dulmatin and Omar Patek, on southern Jolo island, Australian defence forces are planning military exercises with their Philippines counterparts in the Mindanao heartland of local and foreign al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front separatist group has led an insurgency in the region for more than three decades but is now involved in official peace talks.
Already Australia has promised 30 river boats to aid local forces in their search for armed rebel groups linked to JI and the allied local kidnap-for-ransom group, Abu Sayyaf.
A local mayor in Mindanao doesn't like the idea of the Australian military deploying to the region.
He believes "foreign terrorists" will pour in to fight the Australian mlitary presence :
"The Australians should send more economic assistance, not military presence," Cotabato City's Mayor, Muslimin Sema, said. "That will just create problems. Al-Qaeda could come here and create violence as a reaction.
MORE TO COME....