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CAMPAIGN VS ABU SAYYAF

2 kids wounded in clash between troops, bandits

/ 12:10 AM March 22, 2017

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Two children had been wounded in a clash between soldiers and members of the crime and terror group Abu Sayyaf in a Sulu town but armed forces officials kept mum on the second case this month of children getting caught in the crossfire.

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) declined to comment about the wounding of a 5-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl during the clash in the town of Tongkil on March 14.

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Supt. Nonito Asdai, chief of the city’s police station 6, had confirmed the presence of the two children in a hospital here.

“They suffered bullet wounds so we immediately investigated this knowing that they are civilians from Sulu,” he said.

Asdai said city police earlier thought the two wounded persons brought to the hospital were members of the Abu Sayyaf “until we made our own investigation.”

“They were caught in the middle of a crossfire,” he said.

“The guardian of the two children said there was a military encounter and the bandits fled toward their direction,” Asdai said.

Military officials refused to comment, but the Joint Task Force Sulu’s (JTFS) Facebook account said an Abu Sayyaf member, a certain Basing, was killed during the March 14 clash. There was no mention of children being wounded.

Col. Cirilito Sobejana, head of JTFS, in a statement posted on Facebook, lauded the soldiers who had killed Basing.

Sobejana said JTFS is doing its best to protect civilians.

Senior Supt. Luisito Magnaye, city police chief, had described the wounded minors as “children of the Abu Sayyaf.” —JULIE S. ALIPALA

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, clash, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom)
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