ZAMBOANGA CITY – Government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants and killing one of them in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, officials said Tuesday.
The fighting broke out Monday in the village of Bungkaong in Patikul town after soldiers encountered about 60 militants under Abu Sayyaf commanders Almujer Yadah and Idang Susukan.
There was no report of military casualties, according to Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command. He said members of the 21st Infantry Battalion were deployed in the town’s hinterlands following reports by villagers that the militants were holding several hostages in the area.
“In the continuing conduct of military operations to rescue the remaining kidnap victims in Sulu, soldiers under the 21st Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Pagala, encountered more or less sixty Abu Sayyaf Group members under Almujer Yadah and Idang Susukan in Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul, Sulu at 9:00 this morning. Due to the superior firepower of the government forces, the bandits were forced to withdraw and escape,” Besana said.
He said soldiers recovered the body of the slain militant, including his M16 automatic rifle. There was no report whether the hostages were in the area.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, praised the soldiers for their bravery and said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf will be relentless. “This latest encounter only shows how persistent our forces are to track down the terrorist groups wherever they go to make sure that they are decimated and that remaining kidnap victims are also rescued.”
“We also have to give due recognition to the support of the local community in directing our troops to the terrorists’ location proving that they are already tired of the menace they bring to their locality,” he said.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding about a dozen Filipino and foreign hostages.
Since January, Dela Vega said security forces had killed 32 militants in fighting in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, is fighting for caliphate in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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