Philippines: 10 Abu Sayyaf killed in clashes
04 Mar 2017 - 12:25
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: At least ten IS-linked terrorists have been killed and several soldiers wounded as sporadic skirmishes continued in southern province of Sulu until Saturday morning.
Colonel Cirilo Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said there have been ten enemy (Abu Sayyaf) deaths recorded so far as government troops continue offensives in areas of Patikul and Indanan towns.
He said a two-hour clash between troops of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion and some 120 Abu Sayyaf in Barangay Tubig Dakula, Indanan last Wednesday left five bandits dead and 11 soldiers injured.
This was followed by another heavy skirmish between elements of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and the local terrorists which took place at Sitio Kan Undong, Barangay Igasan in Patikul town, also in Sulu.
"We have received reports of another five dead body count on the side of Abu Sayyaf over the last twenty four hours," Sobejana said.
As of this report, Sobejana said all-out offensives against the Abu Sayyaf group continue in Sulu in an effort to contain the bandits and rescue the remaining hostages.
"Government forces are supported by air and artillery strikes as well as armor," he said.
According to him, the series of skirmishes came amid intensified military operations following the February 26 beheading of German hostage Juergen Kantner.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said troops armed with crew-served weapons heavily engaged the enemy, while air interdiction was promptly made to thwart the extrication of the evading Abu Sayyaf members.
"As of press time, pursuit is being undertaken in coordination with the local government and the residents," Petinglay said.
The Abu Sayyaf is believed to still be holding 31 remaining hostages in the jungles of Sulu. Twelve of them are Vietnamese nationals, 7 Indonesians, 6 Filipinos, 5 Malaysians, and a Dutch.
The Abu Sayyaf Group has pledged allegiance to IS, which has endorsed Isnilon Hapilon, one of the terror group's key leaders, as "emir" for southeast Asia.
Since 1991, the group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.