Top BIFF commander in Basilan killed in clash; military on alert PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 June 2014 16:50

The military is on high alert in Basilan following the death of the top commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in that province in a clash yesterday with army troops and some MNLF fighters.

Col. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Army's 104th Brigade, said Commander Basir Kasaran was killed with a head shot from an army sniper during a gunbattle in Albarka municipality early yesterday.

Galvez, quoting his intelligence operatives, said Basir is backed up by the armed groups of Nurhassan Jamiri and Musana Jamiri numbering about 40.

A reliable sour said that yesterday's clash was triggered by the killing of an Abu Sayyaf leader named Commander Loong, an ally of Basir, who was shot by the eldest son of Commander Ombong, a former MNLF leader turned military asset.

The same source said the killing angered Basir and led to the firefight with the troops from the Army's 18th Infantry Battalion and supportive MNLF fighters.

It was learned that Basir had been providing mortars to the groups of Abu Sayyaf leaders Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon, and giving the latter shelter in his area in Albarka.

The source said the army soldiers are being supported by followers of MNLF Commander Cobra.

Army troops aboard trucks patrol Isabela City yesterday as security measures against possible retaliatory action from Basir's followers andhisAbu Sayyaf comrades.

Yesterday's clash in Basilan came two days after marines and police troopers engaged in a fierce firefight with Abu Sayyaf militants in Patikul, Sulu on Thursday.

The military's Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City disclosed that the Abu Sayyaf under sub-leader Hairula Asbang suffered 10 deaths, while seven Marines were killed in the encounter. Twenty four other soldiers were wounded.

Military said most of the slain and wounded soldiers were hit by shrapnels when Abu Sayyaf militants shelled them with 81mm mortar.

As a result, the ASG suffered at least 10 casualties with one body recovered, while the government suffered seven killed and 24 wounded.

"The Marines were conducting follow-up law enforcement operations in coordination with the Philippine National Police to locate and neutralize Abu Sayyaf guerrillas when the encounter happened," the military report said.

Six of those killed were identified as SSgt. Efren Manayon, Sgt. Marvin Casarcero, Cpl. Randy Morada, Cpl Jose Mano Moron, Sgt. Randy Reyes,  Sgt. Dexter Buntia,

The wounded were SSgt. Ramil Estives, Sgt. Art John Narag, SSgt, Christopher Animo, Sgt. Rodrigo Jugo, SSgt.Renie  Damaso, Cpl. Gerardo Baserra, Sgt. Eufrocino Payumo Jr., Sgt. Mike Tobias, Cpl. Allan Banquiran, Cpl. Leo  Bucug, Cpl. Alvin Layaguin, Cpl. Jeffrey Cabarruibias, Cpl. Erico Ubalde . -- Allen Abastills

Authorities were verifying Firday an unconfirmed intelligence report that the Abu Sayyaf gunmen have beheaded one of two hostages who was earlier reported to have been wounded in the clash between Marines and police troopers in Patikul, Sulu.

An unconfirmed intelligence report disclosed that Remegio Lingayan, a plumber who was abducted together with his brother-in-law Joselito Gonzales by Abu Sayyaf gunmen on June 4, was hit by shrapnels when pursuing Marines and police troopers tried to rescue him during which a fierce gunbattle erupted in Patikul.

Quoting troops on the ground, the intelligence report said the Abu Sayyaf could not provide medication to Lingayan who was wounded in the encounter, hence they decided to behead him so as not to affect their movement.

Lingayan and Joselito Gonzales, both residents of Zamboanga City, were working on a construction project in Sulu when they were seized by Abu Sayyaf gunmen Indanan, a neighboring town of Patikul.

His captors later demanded P7 million ransom for his freedom.

Before the beheading, Lingayan's neighbors in the village of Tumaga, Zamboanga City had initiated a fund raising activity to help raise the amount that was demanded by the Abu Sayyaf.

On Thursday, Lingayan's wife showed two empty plastic bottles containing small peso bills and coins that were donated by friends and neighbors.

Another conflicting unconfirmed report disclosed that it was Gonzales who was mortally wounded when the soldiers clashed with his Abu Sayyaf captors.

Lingayan's wife Analiza said on Wednesday that the Abu Sayyaf has issued a 10-day ultimatum to behead their hostages if they fail to pay the ransom that was reduced to P3 million.

Lingayan disclosed the ultimatum when she personally called up a local station of Brigada News FM Thursday appealing to the local government and the Sulu provincial government to help them secure the freedom of victims.

Analiza said the kidnappers called her up Wednesday and imposed the ultimatum for them to raise the amount of ransom before June 29 and warned to execute their hostages before Ramadan.

“Tumawag sila kahapon at ibinaba na ang kanilang ransom demand ng P3 million pero nagbigay sila ng 10- day ultimatum dahil kung hindi daw mabigay ang hiling nila puputulin nila ng ulo ang aking asawa at kasama niya,” Mrs. Lingayan said.

The kidnappers have originally demanded  P20 nillion and decreased their demand to P7 million after the victims’ families said they have no such money.

Mrs. Lingayan said she also contacted the contractor where her husband was working but was told they could not pay the ranson.  ---- Richard Falcatan