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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Seven pro-ISIS militants, including a sub-leader, were killed in ferocious battle between Philippine Marines and Abu Sayyaf in the southern island of Minis, officials announced Saturday.

Ten other people surrendered to soldiers, according to Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, adding, the fighting, which occurred Thursday, also killed a soldier and left 3 others wounded.

The Western Mindanao Command earlier said 3 militants were slain in the battle after troops clashed with about 50 Abu Sayyaf gunmen on the island off Sulu’s Patikul town.

Medina said members of the 62nd Marine Company under Colonel Armel Tolato responded to intelligence reports received from the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu on the presence of militants in the area. He said several vessels and a helicopter provided sea blockade and aerial support to ground troops, including elite members of the Special Operations Platoon 1 and a SEAL team.

“Sea denial is now being enforced by the Fleet-Marine team over the sea waters of Minis Island to avoid escape and enemy reinforcement while NAVSOU (Naval Special Operations Unit) and MARSOU (Marines Special Operations Unit) hunts down the Abu Sayyafs in the mangrove area of the island,” Medina said.

“The neutralization of the Abu Sayyafs was a result of the commitment and continued monitoring activity of the government troops in Western Mindanao. The public is assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Fleet-Marine troops will continue to exercise vigilance in ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces) area to preempt any activities brought by the Abu Sayyaf group and other lawless terrorist groups that threatens the peace, stability and development in the area,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the regional military commander, said he ordered security forces to intensify the offensives against the pro-ISIS group, who is holding several foreigners and Filipinos kidnapped in the South and in Sabah. “The Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf to neutralize the bandits. All measures are now being undertaken in accordance with the rules of engagement, and with the support of the local government and the populace,” he said.

Dela said they were saddened by the loss of a brave soldier. “We are deeply saddened by the news that another gallant soldier was killed during the encounter of our troops with the Abu Sayyafs bandits. Rest assured that we will extend all sorts of assistance to the bereaved family,” he said.

There were no reports if any of the hostages had been spotted on the island. (Mindanao Examiner)

 

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