6 soldiers, 5 civilians, 3 Abu Sayyaf men hurt in Basilan clash
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Six government troops, five civilians and three Abu Sayyaf bandits were hurt when fighting erupted in Al Barka town in Basilan on Sunday morning.
Lt. Col. Paolo Perez, commander of the 18th Infantry Battalion, said the fighting erupted in Barangay (village) Kuhon Lenuh at 5 a.m. Sunday.
“It was a coordinated operation. We informed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that we were entering the areas of Kuhon and Peggesan, but upon reaching the area, we were fired upon, all bullets coming from the houses,” Perez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
At 6 a.m., a civilian sought the help of the troops in the vicinity informing them five civilians were hurt in a crossfire.
A report from the Al Barka Municipal Police identified the wounded civilians as Asma Hussin, 2; Sharpe Misa, 4; Radiya Saratal 18; Sanima Hussin, 29 and Jumiran Misa, 52. They were brought to the headquarters of the 18th Infantry Battalion for medical treatment.
While scouring the area, troops recovered the body of a suspected Abu Sayyaf member and his firearm.
“We were told by villagers that three other bandits were wounded but managed to flee the area upon sensing reinforcement,” he said.
Perez said that at 9 a.m., an MG520 helicopter was fired upon by the fleeing bandits.
“I was told it was hit,” Perez said, adding that the attack helicopter did not deliver an air strike because the engagement was in a populated area.
Maj. Gen. Esmeraldo Magnaye, commanding officer of the 3rd Air Division, confirmed that one of their attack helicopters was hit. “Yes, but it is safe. I still have to check the details,” he said.
Perez said the civilians suffered minor injuries.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.