Four Abu Sayyaf members killed in Sulu battle: AFP
Four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were killed while seven soldiers were wounded in an encounter in Sulu on Sunday, a military spokesperson said Monday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command, said the troops of Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 were conducting search and rescue operation for the remaining kidnap victims when they were fired upon by around 30 terrorist members at the vicinity of Bud Bawis, Panamao town at 4:15 am.
“The Marines were on operation after receiving information that the group of Abu Sayyaf subleader Sansibar Bensio and Hatib Munap Binda are in the area hiding with them some kidnap victims when the fire fight occurred,” said Petinglay.
“Bensio was a newly identified sub group leader of the ASG only last February 2017 but is however monitored operating with the group of the late ASG ( sub leader) Alhabsy Misaya and was involved in the kidnapping and safekeeping of kidnap victims, among those were the Indonesian KVs ( kidnap victims) who were released last 2016,” she said.
“Due to the superior firepower of the government forces, the bandits were forced to withdraw and escape,” she added.
Petinglay said troops recovered a rifle and four dead bodies .
“Soldiers found four dead bodies and an M14 rifle after searching the immediate vicinity of the encounter site. The firearm is now in the custody of Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu,” she said.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, JTF Sulu commander, said the military is coordinating with the local government for the proper disposition of the slain terrorist.
“We are coordinating with local officials for the identity of these bodies. Surely, we will accord them with appropriate and decent burial when left unclaimed,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Western Mindanao Command chief, said seven soldiers were wounded.
“They were all immediately evacuated to safety for immediate medical attention. As of this report, they are already being taken cared of by the best physicians and medical practitioners,” he said.
Galvez said the military is pursuing the Abu Sayyaf Group to neutralize the bandits and rescue remaining hostages.
“We will not stop until we rescue all hostages and until we neutralize all these terrorists. Our soldiers are out there hunting for them ready to fight and die just to attain peace in our communities especially in Sulu,” he said.
Sobejana said based on their latest data the ASG are still holding a total of seven kidnap victims in Sulu which includes one Dutch, two Indonesian and one Vietnamese nationals. Robina Asido/DMS