2 Abus killed, 6 soldiers, 5 civilians hurt in Basilan clash PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 February 2015 12:03

Two Abu Sayyaf guerrillas were killed while six army soldiers and five villagers were wounded when security forces of the military’s Joint Task Group launched Sunday an offensive operation against the militant group  in the island province of Basilan.

Lt. CJ Perez, commander of the Army’s 18th Battalion, told DXNO radio station manager Richard Falcatan that his soldiers attacked an Abu Sayyaf lair in Barangay Kuhon in the remote town of Al Barka triggering a firefight around 5 a.m.

Perez said six of the soldiers and five villagers were hit by shrapnels from mortar shelling by the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

Falcatan said the villagers were caught in the crossfire when the gunbattle broke out early morning. Among those wounded were a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

Falcatan said fighting continued until Sunday afternoon and the number of casualties could possibly go up.

Philippine Air Force Huey helicopers flew several times from the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City to Basilan evacuating the wounded casualties and providing air support to ground troops going after the Abu Sayyaf militants under Basir Kasaran,

The wounded civilians were identified as Jumiran Misa, 52,Radisa Misa, 18, Sanima Husioen, 29, Asma Husien, 2 and Sarfe Misa, 5, all from Barangay Guinanta.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, said the five wounded civilians were held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf.

The firefight started 5: 45 a.m. and lasted for seven hours, he added.

Falcatan  said a PAF MG520 helicopter providing air support almost went down after it was hit by bullets fired by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas

“The AFP commends the troops of Joint Task Group Basilan for rescuing five innocent civilians who were shot by Abu Sayyaf bandits as they retreated in the running gun battle with government troops in Barangay Kuhon, Al Barka, Basilan starting at 5:45 a.m.,” Cabunoc said.

A company of soldiers (around 100 personnel) engaged the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas led by a certain Bashir Kasaran in a seven-hour firefight.

The six wounded are now in stable condition after being treated in a hospital in Isabela City.

“The AFP and Philippine National Police are relentlessly pursuing the bandits in Basilan province in collaboration with the  local government and in coordination with other stakeholders, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front communities,” Cabunoc said.

“We also commend the heroic pilots of MG MD-520 attack helicopter that was hit by enemy fire while providing close air support to the ground troops which were swarmed by the bandits,” he added.

Basilan is one of the two strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, which is fighting for a puritan Islamic state and notorious for beheading of captives. It has been harboring kidnap victims snatched from outside of the province, such as the island states in Malaysia and coastal towns the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The other stronghold is Sulu in the deep south where several hostages had been held captives and some of them behreaded. Both Sulu and Basilan are under the so-called Bangsamoro entity that was agreed in a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group that has been fighting for independence in Mindanao (southern Philippines).