ZAMBOANGA CITY – Government troops pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants on the southern island of Simisa off Sulu province have recovered 3 bodies of suspected gunmen killed in fighting as security forces combed Sunday forested areas where the terrorist group is hiding, the military said.
It said soldiers also recovered two rifles and ammunition in the area where the bodies had been found. They also destroyed a boat being used by the Abu Sayyaf in the mangrove areas of Simisa Island.
There was no report of fresh fighting on the island, but the military deployed a huge number of soldiers in Simisa to “seek and destroy” the terrorists blamed for cross-border ransom kidnappings off Sabah in Malaysia.
Government forces on the island had rescued an Indonesian Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and a Malaysian fishermen Jari Abdullah, 24, – held captive since last year by the Abu Sayyaf – but another Indonesian fisherman, Hariadin, 45, drowned while escaping from the fighting between soldiers and militants.
The trio was kidnapped in December by the Abu Sayyaf and brought them by boat on Simisa Island.
The rescued Indonesian and Malaysian fishermen and the body of Hariadin were brought to the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City.
While the hunt for militants continue on the island, recent fighting on Sulu’s Patikul town had killed 3 soldiers and wounded over a dozen more after the army clashed with at least 50 militants led by Hajan Sawadjaan. The operation is still on going in the town’s hinterlands where the Abu Sayyaf fighters broke into smaller groups. The town is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf. (The Zamboanga Post)
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