U.S. orders pullout of soldiers in S Philippines

17:04, September 30, 2009      

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U.S. authorities have ordered the pullout of its soldiers pursuing humanitarian projects in Sulu, Southern Philippines, following Tuesday's bombing that left two American and a Filipino troops dead and two other Filipino soldiers wounded, the military said on Wednesday.

"As a precaution, U.S. authorities have pulled out, for the meantime, their engineers at Barangay Kagay," Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, commander of the Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command, told a phone interview.

Dolorfino said the pulled personnel of the U.S. Seabees are now at Camp Bautista, home of the 3rd Marine Brigade in Jolo town, but would not say how many U.S. personnel were recalled from the construction site.

On Tuesday, an improvised bomb exploded in front of a Marines detachment in Indanan town, killing two U.S. servicemen aboard a Humvee vehicle. A member of the Philippines Marines also died and two others were injured in the attack.

At present, Dolorfino said Marine soldiers are securing the projects that were left behind the Americans in Kagay, including two school buildings and a deep well. "We will continue providing security to their projects," he said.

Dolorfino said other U.S.-funded projects in the province will not be affected. "All their other projects are continuing. It is only in this construction (at Kagay) where they (U.S. troops) are directly involved," the official added.

The official said there is "very strong indications" that members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf were responsible for the attack against the US troops and the bombing of the bridge. He said this is probably part of the group's retaliation for their losses over a week ago.

Dolorfino was referring to the assault and subsequent capture of an Abu Sayyaf camp in Indanan that left scores of bandits dead.

"This indicates that the Abu Sayyaf has a strong desire to retaliate," said Dolorfino, adding the military feat over a week ago has degraded the capability of the Abu Sayyaf both on the field of personnel and logistics.

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