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Hunt for Abus in Bohol clash reaches Cebu island

04:29 AM April 22, 2017

CEBU CITY — The armed forces continued the hunt for two armed men suspected to be members of the Abu Sayyaf who had been spotted on the beaches of a village in Olango Island, an area famous to bird watchers.

Cyrus Eyas, chair of San Vicente village, said sightings of the armed men and the presence of government soldiers were sowing fear among residents of two communities in San Vicente.

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At least 25 families from one community, Sitio Basdaku, fled to an elementary school on Thursday and spent the night there.

“The residents are very scared,” said Eyas.

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He said the armed men could be Abu Sayyaf members who are fleeing soldiers on the hunt for bandits who clashed with soldiers in Inabanga town in Bohol, which is about an hour by boat from Olango.

Eyas said he believed the armed men “were looking for medicines and food.”

The hunt for the armed men, however, would not be easy as they could hide in the 1,100-hectare mangrove forest near a bird sanctuary in San Vicente.

It is also possible that they had already left Olango, said the village chief.

In a separate interview, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said he believed the bandits are still in Inabanga.

A resident of Olango, Erlinda Taneo, reported seeing the armed men past noon on Thursday.

The two wore jackets and carried backpacks and rifles. Their faces were covered.

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“One man appeared to be weak because he was being supported by his companion while walking,” said Eyas, quoting witnesses’ accounts.

Two hours after the sighting of the armed men was reported to police, at least 20 soldiers arrived in San Vicente. Bursts of gunfire were heard afterward.

Eyas said members of the police’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team found a shelter in the middle of the mangrove forest in Olango.

Found in the shelter were hammocks made of jute sacks, water bottles, empty cans and dried fish.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Bohol firefight, Inabanga firefight, Olango Island
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