3 Abus killed, 6 wounded in Basilan clashes
MANILA, Philippines–Three members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed while six members were wounded in a series of clashes with the military in Basilan on Tuesday.
“Early this week, Joint Task Force-Zambasulta through Joint Task Group-Basilan launched Operation Fortis et Liber targeting ASG leaders in Sumisip, Basilan,” said Armed Forces spokesperson Colonel Restituto Padilla on Wednesday.
The troops from the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Forces Battalion figured in clash with about 50 members of the Abu Sayyaf led by sub leaders Radzmil Jannatul and Juhaivel Alamsirul on Tuesday in a series of encounters in the villages of Pamatsaken and Baiwas in Sumisip town.
Armed Forces Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said the clashes lasted for about two hours.
No casualties were reported on the government side.
The military also conducted air strikes early Wednesday to support ground troops conducting pursuit operations.
There are about 400 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mindanao based on military estimates and about 150 are in Basilan.
The military launched an all-out law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan last November following the death of Second Lieutenant Jun Corpuz and five other soldiers while guarding the Basilan Circumferential Road.
The AFP is also conducting intensified law enforcement operations in Sulu, another stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, after the release of the bandit’s German captives for a reported ransom of P250 million.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. went to Jolo in Sulu and in Zamboanga City to visit the troops there.
“The purpose [of the visit] was to lift the morale of the troops for their series of accomplishments and their sacrifices for the past months,” Cabunoc said.
The visit was supposed to be last December but was stalled due to several activities at Camp Aguinaldo and preparations for the recently concluded papal visit.
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