US commander surveys captured al-Qaida jungle camp

The US Pacific commander traveled to a captured jungle camp of suspected al-Qaida-linked militants on southern Jolo Island Tuesday, seeing evidence of the damage by a US-backed offensive on the rebels. Adm. Timothy Keating, accompanied by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and Filipino generals, inspected bunkers, trenches and secret tunnels in the former encampment of Abu Sayyaf militants on Mount Tugas near Jolo's Patikul town, according to accompanying officials and journalists. Keating, who used a broken tree branch as a cane to help him hike through forest trails to the camp, was the highest US military officer to make such a trip to a known hotbed of militants near Jolo's Patikul town, about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila. Battle-ready US and Philippine troops secured Keating and the other visitors, who included Philippine military chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon. Military helicopters and a US spy plane flew overhead during the jungle trip.