Soldiers hunting cathedral bombers clash with ASG in Patikul, Sulu
COTABATO CITY – Government forces clashed with Abu Sayyaf/Ajang-Ajang group under Commander Macrin in Patikul, Sulu, the military said on Thursday.
Colonel Gerry Besana, spokesperson for Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the clash erupted at 7:20 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Latih.
The gunfight lasted for about 10 minutes with no casualty on the government side.
“No casualty on the government side, we are still verifying the casualty on the ASG side, if there are any,” Besana said.
But around 400 families who fled their homes in Patikul appealed to the national and local governments to spare their farm animals and secure the belongings they had left behind.
Besana said government forces on the ground were pursuing the group of Macrin and his about 30 followers.
Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion form part of the military unit directed by President Duterte to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, following the twin bombings at the Jolo Cathedral that claimed 21 lives on Sunday.
Two MG-520 attack helicopters provide air support to the Ranger Battalion now combing the mountains of Patikul.
The Thursday morning clash came a day after soldiers neutralized an Abu Sayyaf militant after a firefight with ASG in Patikul at 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 29.
Ommal Usop was slain in the combined operations launched by military and police forces at the residence of Kamah, a member of the Ajang-Ajang group, in Barangay Latih at 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday.
Usop resisted arrest, prompting the military and police to return fire in a raid at Kalimayahan Village in Latih.
Government troops also recovered a caliber .45 pistol, five rounds of ammunition, and a sniper scope. With Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao /lzb
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