ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf rebels killed a government soldier and wounded at least 7 more in a clash in the southern Philippine town of Patikul.
The fighting on Wednesday afternoon occurred just as troops were searching for foreign and Filipino hostages of the Abu Sayyaf in the town’s hinterlands. Among the captives were two Canadians and a Norwegian man kidnapped this year on a posh resort in Davao del Norte province.
There was no report on the fate of the hostages, but Abu Sayyaf rebels – who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – have threatened to execute their captives if their families and governments fail to pay $21 million ransoms.
Government troops clashed with dozens of heavily-armed rebels under Hajan Sawadjaan, one of the notorious leaders of the Abu Sayyaf blamed by the Aquino government for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the restive Muslim autonomous region and other parts of Mindanao, including Zamboanga.
Local authorities said there were no reports of enemy casualties, but the military – quoting intelligence reports – insisted it killed several of them although no bodies had been recovered by troops from the scene of the fighting. The slain soldier was identified by the military as Lt. Ronald Detalla, of the army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion.
The gunmen beheaded a kidnapped South Korean man and a Malaysian hostage after their family failed to pay ransom. (Mindanao Examiner)
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