According to inq7.net, a press photographer who saw an attack Wednesday Nov. 21 upon rebel leader Nur Misuari reported that two OV-10 Broncos dropped bombs on rebel positions in the wooded hills in the town of Patikul early in the afternoon. We have also confirmed this with members of the Philippine Wing of the OV-10 Bronco Association. Two MG-520 attack helicopters followed through with rocket fire, and the attacks also will involve F-5 and SF260 aircraft. As of Wednesday, Nov. 21, Philippine military aircraft had been involved in three straight days of bombing strongholds of the renegade Moro leader Nur Misuari in Jolo, Sulu. Thousands of ground troops have also been invloved in the operations. The death toll has included 100 rebels, 6 troops and 7 civillians. At least 10,000 residents have been displaced by the fighting.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had given Misuari and his 400-600 followers until November 22 to surrender, after a Nov. 19 attack on the 104th Infantry Brigade headquarters in Malacañang. Misuari is the founder of the renegade Moro National Liberation Front faction (MNLF) who made a peace deal with the Philippine government in 1996. He is now the outgoing governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and the government has implicated him for leading the Nov. 19 attack. Rather than proceeding with a preventive suspension issued against Misuari on Nov. 20, President Macapagal-Arroyo filed a rebellion case and issued a warrant for his arrest. Military officials have said that it is their intention to apprehend 60-year old Misuari dead or alive, and would even sink his boat if he tried to flee to Malaysia.
FOLLOW UP 11/28/01:
Misuari has now been arrested in Malaysia, while the PAF's R&D center works on new ways to recover old aircraft and bring them to flying condition, with some interesting results. They have now even armed the two-seat Siai-Marchetti SF.260 trainers used by student pilots at the PAF Flying School (PAFFS)in Lipa, Batangas. These planes, whose only known "combat" roles have consisted of simulated air-to-air dogfighting attractions for the general public in the USA, have now been fitted with guns for precision air assaults, according to the PAF. The PAF has also "reconditioned" old OV-10 Broncos and MG-520 attack gunships for stronger firepower, and has installed forward-firing guns on their Huey helicopters.
The PAF has a relatively small air force, consisting of two C-130 transports, six F-5 fighters, 20 Hueys, 10 OV-10 Broncos and around twelve MG-520s. About six C-130s, more than ten F-5s, eight Hueys and eight Marchetti planes are currently grounded for maintenance. "We have to wait for two years for the spare parts," said PAF spokeman Colonel Horacio Lapinid.
Information for this update came from this report at inq7.net.