12 Abu Sayyaf men killed in military operations in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Twelve suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), including a top Sahiron aide, were killed in four separate encounters in Sulu Thursday.
At least two dozen persons, including seven soldiers, were also wounded in the same operations, a military report released Friday said.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said his units clashed with local bandits in four areas in Patikul, leaving a dozen bandits killed, including Julie Ikit, who was said to be the second in command after ASG leader Radulan Sahiron.
“The number of Abu casualties during the series of encounters will have a dire effect on the Abu Sayyaf’s morale and will to fight,” Pabayo said.
The first encounter happened in Sitio Bud Taming, Barangay Panglayahan in Patikul, Sulu at around 10:37 a.m. Members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion clashed with about a hundred Abu fighters in a 45-minute gun battle.
Two soldiers were wounded and Ikit also reported to be a cousin of Sahiron, was killed in this clash, according to Major Gerald Monfort, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
Monfort said the soldiers recovered night vision goggles (NVG), 40 makeshift tents, 50 water gallons and five sacks of rice in the Sitio Bud Taming clash site.
The second encounter happened at 3:43 p.m. in Sitio Kan-Isnain in Barangay Kabbon Takas where elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion under Major John Reysanti Aling engaged with about 80 Abu Sayyaf fighters.
“The Abus were caught by surprise. They immediately scampered to different directions while they were being pursued by the government troops. A body of an unidentified Abu was also recovered during the quick search,” Monfort said.
While setting up a blockade at 5:13 p.m., troops of the 3rd Scout Ranger Company, 1st Scout Ranger Battalion also encountered 10 bandits in Sitio Tambang, Pabayo said.
He added that it was the longest gunfight in the series of encounters with Abu men, lasting for about two hours and 30 minutes.
“Also, amid hot pursuit operation on fleeing enemies previously encountered by the troops of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, rangers also hit the same group around 5:26 p.m. in Sitio Tambang, Barangay Kabbon Takas,” Pabayo said.
Pabayo added that they received reports that a total of 12 bandits were killed in the encounters. H however, only two bodies were recovered from the two encounters sites — one in Barangay Panglayahan and another in Barangay Kabbon Takas.
Meanwhile, five wounded rangers and two soldiers of the 32nd IB were immediately brought to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.
“This is what we call hundred percent support and cooperation from the local community which led to the successful conduct of operations and that troops’ morale is high due to continuous support from the people,” Pabayo said. /ee
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