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Authorities blamed for rise in attacks by Abu Sayyaf

MANILA -- Al-Qaida-linked militants in the Philippines have staged more attacks in the last four years despite many battlefield setbacks, a military report said Thursday, blaming a failure of authorities to isolate the terrorists from their supporters.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has long been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization, launched 74 attacks last year, 19 percent more than in 2010.

The report, which assesses the first year of the government's new counterinsurgency program, said poverty and the large number of unlicensed firearms in the southern provinces of Sulu and Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf has jungle strongholds, have allowed the militants to survive and continue to sow terror.

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