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Death toll in Sulu clash rises to 6 with 1 more Abu Sayyaf bandit slain

ZAMBOANGA CITY–The Abu Sayyaf death toll in Patikul, Sulu rose to six on Thursday when government security forces killed another bandit.

Roger Samlahon was killed during a 45-minute clash between members of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion and some 30 Abu Sayyaf members in Barangay Latih, according to Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

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Samlahon’s body had been recovered, along with a shattered rifle, Sobejana said on Friday.

Thursday’s clash was the second firefight in Patikul this week as the military conducted a focused operation against the bandit group.

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On Tuesday, at least five Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while several others, including six Scout Ranger soldiers, were injured there.

Sobejana said Tuesday’s figure on slain bandits was based on information from their ground sources.

Soldiers had clashed with the Abu Sayyaf faction under Radulan Sahiron, Sobejana said.

The Moro islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said its forces were helping the military in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.

Their ground forces provide vital information to the military, such as the arrival in Sulu in January of a Canadian-Arab, who eventually joined the bandit group, MILF chief Ebrahim Murad said.

“This half-Canadian half-Arab Muslim joined the Abu Sayyaf. Violent extremism requires cooperation among neighboring countries and people,” Murad said.

The MILF was confident that the information it was providing the military would result in the defeat of the bandit group, he said.

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“The fight against violent extremism in the Philippines is real. But we will increasingly find them in our midst as they seek new strategic grounds where the hold of the government is weak such as Mindanao,” Murad said.

“We attribute the latest combat success against the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group to the local government units and local residents of Patikul, who pinpointed their location to the CAFGU Active Auxiliaries and Special Forces Soldiers. We are grateful not just to them but to all peace-loving Tausugs, who are positively responding to our call to end terrorism in Sulu. We are optimistic that with your active support we will be able neutralize the remaining terrorists and ‘win the peace’ that is the key to development of this province,” Sobejana said in a statement.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Cirilito Sobejana, clash, Joint Task Force Sulu, Patikul, Scout Rangers, Sulu
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