ZAMBOANGA CITY – Five Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed and at least 11 soldiers wounded in brief, but fierce gun battle that erupted in southern Philippines where security forces are battling the ISIS-affiliate group blamed for the grisly murder of a kidnapped German yachter in the restive region, officials said Thursday.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said Wednesday fighting broke out in the remote mountain village of Bud Taran in Indanan town where troops – searching for other kidnapped victims – caught up with a band of rebels and engaged them in running gun battle for 10 minutes.
At the end of the fighting, she said 5 rebels were slain and 11 government soldiers injured and had been evacuated to a military hospital in Jolo town.
“Troops of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion encountered the Abu Sayyaf members. Heavy skirmishes ensued resulting in the wounding of a soldier, while ten other personnel incurred minor splinter injuries. Casualties are yet to be determined on the enemy’s side; however, gathered reports from sources say that the Abus suffered 5 killed from their end,” Petinglay said.
She said security forces were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in the town where the 70-year old Jurgen Kantner was beheaded on February 26 after his family failed to pay P30 million ransom to the Abu Sayyaf.
Kantner was kidnapped while sailing in a yacht with his wife Sabine Merz, 56, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen intercepted them just several nautical miles from the southern province of Tawi-Tawi in the Muslim autonomous region. The woman was killed and naked when found by soldiers in the boat. A shotgun was also recovered near her body.
Major General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, ordered troops to intensify their operations against the Abu Sayyaf and to rescue over 2 dozen Asian sailors kidnapped by rebels off Sabah in Malaysia and Tawi-Tawi and Basilan provinces.
“The Joint Task Force Sulu led by Colonel Cirilito Sobejana continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf to neutralize the bandits and ensure the rescue of the remaining hostages. All measures are undertaken in accordance with the rules of engagement and with support from the local government and the populace,” he said as he appealed to citizens to help authorities by providing information on the Abu Sayyaf.
Galvez parroted other senior military officials in saying that he will crush the Abu Sayyaf in 6 months. “Terrorism is a sickening problem that needs all sectors of society’s cooperation for it to be defeated. With the renewed vigor of those who are against it, we are optimistic that we will be able to crush the bandits within six months.” (Mindanao Examiner)
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