Abu Sayyaf death toll reaches 9
At least five more members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, including one of its leaders, were killed by government troops in a clash in Maimbung town in Sulu province on Sunday, bringing to 9 the total number of slain bandits that day, a military official said.
Col. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu, on Monday said that among those killed was Jaber Susukan, a brother of Kumander Idang and one of the trusted commanders of Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.
Sobejana said soldiers failed to retrieve Susukan’s body although they were able to confirm his death. Military reports also indicated that Idang was wounded in the clash, where government troops engaged at least 70 bandits.
Initial reports on Sunday showed that four Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in Maimbung as soldiers were patrolling Barangay Ipil.
The latest deaths brought to 23 the number of bandits killed since clashes started last month.
Sobejana said soldiers recovered five firearms from the clash site.
“Firefight is still imminent, on and off, but we have encircled their lair,” he said.
“Simultaneously, we are occupying spaces to reduce the [bandits’] maneuver space. We are now [in control of] their strongholds. They are outside their comfort zone,” Sobejana added.
Sulu-based university professor Octavio Dinampo, citing information he received from the Philippine Army, said 15 bandits were wounded in the firefight.
Dinampo, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in 2008, said reports reaching him showed the bandits fled toward Barangay Mabahay in Talipao town. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE S. ALIPALA
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