2 minors, 6 others killed in Sulu clash between gov’t troops, Abu Sayyaf
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Eight people including two minors were killed when the Abu Sayyaf Group attacked government troops in Igasan village of Patikul town in Sulu on Saturday.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said that one-year old Saiful Abdun and Jahida Usab, 12, were among the fatalities when Abu Sayyaf forces attacked the barangay, triggering a firefight with soldiers which lasted about 30 minutes. The military claimed to have killed six and wounded seven Abu Sayyaf members.
Pabayo said three soldiers and two civilians—a 60-year old man and a 17-year old mother— were wounded, while three other children were rescued unharmed.
Soldiers belonging to the 6th Special Forces Battalion were in Barangay Igasan for a five-day dialogue with residents when the bandits attacked even before they could wrap up the event.
“They were about to conclude their dialogue with the community when more than 30 armed bandits stormed, unmindful of the presence of civilians,” Pabayo said. “The dialogue was about development projects to be implemented in the community. (The soldiers only wanted) to elicit commitment to ensure the (residents’) support for the program,” he added, explaining that the military had been active in communities formerly known as “havens” of the Abu Sayyaf.
Pabayo identified the wounded soldier as 2nd Lieutenant Christian Capiz, the platoon leader of the 6th Special Forces Battalion and two other enlisted personnel.
Capiz had secured three children from being caught in the crossfire. “I could have easily withdrawn my troops to a safer position but I cannot leave behind the trapped and panicking children,” Capiz said. “So I ordered my men to hold their position and prevent the advance of the Abu Sayyaf at all cost,” he added.
Hindun Angsa, the provincial social welfare officer in Sulu, said the encounter displaced a number of families in Barangay Igasan.
“We are still trying to assess the situation there. Evacuees have fled to the nearby barangay of Taglibi. We were informed a one-year-old child killed in the encounter,” Angsa said. (Editor: Julie Espinosa)
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