ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants killed a Special Forces soldier and a pro-government militia in a daring ambush that also left a two-year old Muslim girl dead and another wounded in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Tuesday.
Officials said the soldier and his companion were travelling on a motorcycle in the village of Kagay in Talipao town when pro-ISIS militants attacked the duo, but 2 children – Salma Sahisa, 2; and Darma Sahisa, 11, – nearby were also hit by stray bullets.
The Monday ambush occurred during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and while the whole region is in an extended state of martial rule.
The Western Mindanao Command did not release the names of the slain soldier, but said he was a member of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion while the militia was a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit helping the government fight the Abu Sayyaf. But Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort, a spokesman for the 11th Infantry Division in Sulu, identified the soldier as Pfc. Joie Halasan and the militia as Aldazier Hassan.
“The incident further resulted in the wounding of two innocent children, ages 2 and 11, who were rushed to the Integrated Provincial Health Office for immediate medical attention. However, due to the severity of injury incurred, the two-year-old child passed away at 12:56 p.m. while the 11-year-old student of Barangay Kagay Elementary School is still in an unstable condition as of this report,” the Western Mindanao Command said in a statement.
In the same statement, Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force-Sulu; and Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana condemned the ambush and vowed to give justice to the victims. “We are deeply saddened by this very unfortunate incident that killed two of our valiant personnel and an innocent child,” Vinluan said.
“We assure the families and friends of the victims that the JTF-Sulu will do our best to ensure that the perpetrators of this treacherous act will be brought to justice. This blatant disregard for the spirit of Islamic festivities is a clear disrespect of the Islam teachings. We appeal to the entire Tausug Community not to succumb to the ASG’s desperate move of sowing fear among our people. Hence, I urge the peace-loving Tausug people to strongly condemn this un-Islamic and treacherous act of the ASG,” he added.
The relatives of the victims were also reported to have volunteered in hunting down the ambushers.
Sobejana said: “We deeply condemn this very deceitful act of the Abu Sayyaf, who do not in any way represent the Islamic way of living. We would like to extend our sympathy to the bereaved families of the victims of the Sayyafs inhumane act. Rest assured all sorts of assistance will be provided as our simple way of commiseration.”
Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham. Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year. While Abraham was prepared to make an ultimate sacrifice, God ultimately prevents the sacrifice, additionally signifying that one should never sacrifice a human life, especially not in the name of God. (Zamboanga Post)
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