SULU – At least 7 soldiers were government soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes Monday with dozens of Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.
The soldiers were part of a huge group sent to track down Abu Sayyaf rebels holding captive two police officers Benierose Alvarez and Dinah Gumahad, and two other civilians – Jakosalem Blas and Faisal Ahidji Hajiri – in Patikul town.
The four were kidnapped on April 29 and the Abu Sayyaf is demanding P5 million for the safe release of the policewomen.
The fighting erupted in Buhanginan village. The fate of the hostages remains unknown, but the operation against the Abu Sayyaf is continuing in the town’s hinterlands where the rebels fled along with their captives.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command did not any statement to journalists on the progress of the operation.
Just last week, police captured an Abu Sayyaf rebel, Sahibul Sailani, and seized improvised explosives from his hideout in Culianan village in Zamboanga City. Sailani, police said, was involved in at least 8 criminal cases, mostly kidnappings in nearby Basilan province.
The 55-year old militant is currently under interrogation by the police to determine if he was involved in the kidnapping of the police officers or whether his group is planning a terror attack in Zamboanga which was previously bombed by the Abu Sayyaf whose leaders pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. (Mindanao Examiner)
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