U.S. Helps Philippines Battle Abu Sayyaf Terrorists
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 11 — U.S. military advisers will visit the Philippines in coming weeks to train Filipino troops fighting Muslim extremists with links to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the news service reported. Philippine Chief of Staff Diomedio Villanueva said the American advisers will also supply equipment and offer intelligence cooperation.
More than 7,000 Filipino soldiers are fighting the Abu Sayyaf Muslim separatist group, thought to number 1,000 fighters, on the southern island of Basilan. Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped dozens of foreign tourists and Filipinos in recent years and obtained millions of dollars in ransom. The group is still holding American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham who were kidnapped from a beach resort in May along with Corona, California, resident Guillermo Sobero.
The Abu Sayyaf has said they beheaded Sobero and the military on Oct. 8 said they found what they believed were his beheaded remains, Associated Press reported.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abu Sayyaf insurgents have trained at Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
‘Peace Line’ to Protect Catholic Schoolchildren
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Oct. 11 — The British government said that a “peace line” wall would be extended to separate Protestants and Catholics near a Catholic school in north Belfast, the news service reported. Holy Cross Primary School is in a Protestant enclave of the mainly Catholic Ardoyne area of north Belfast. Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy announced that a wall dividing the Protestant Glenbryn Park and Ardoyne Road is to be extended to the school, which was the scene of bitter clashes last month when Protestants taunted girls walking to the school. Kennedy also called for an end to the Protestant demonstrations.
The Protestants have demanded that the children be taken to the school via a back-door route. At the height of last month's protests a small homemade explosive device was thrown at parents of the Catholic students.
Since then, the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, with Protestants standing silently with their backs to the children as they arrive for school. But as the parents return home, demonstrators begin to jeer, whistle, hammer drums and wave flags and banners.
Portugal Steps Up Security at Fatima
LUSA NEWS AGENCY, Oct. 10 — Portugal implemented heightened security measures at the Fatima sanctuary for Oct. 12 and Oct. 13, when a large number of pilgrims was expected at the Marian pilgrimage site, the government-run news agency reported.
The Fatima sanctuary is located about 90 miles north of Portugal's capital city of Lisbon. Lusa quoted local governmental official Santarem Nelson Baltazar as saying “we don't believe there will be threats, yet we prefer to step up precautionary measures by increasing the number of security personnel in the sanctuary.”
Baltazar said the number of police deployed to the village of Fatima would substantially increase. Baltazar added that in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, it is natural for Catholics to come to the sanctuary to pray for world peace.
The Portuguese town of Fatima is named after the eldest daughter of the prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam. Pilgrimages there peak Oct. 13 because that is the date in 1917 when a crowd of 70,000 who had gathered there, after hearing of the appearance of Mary to three shepherd children, witnessed the miraculous movement of the sun.