Big battle erupts in Sulu: 2 soldiers, 5 Abus killed PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 14:33

Government troops, in relentless pursuit operation against the Abu Sayyaf militant group, clashed with some 300 guerrillas on Wednesday in Sulu, leaving two Army Scout Ranger commandos and five militants dead and 14 others wounded.

Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, in a statement to local media, said a fierce firefight broke out around 9:20 a.m. in the village of Tanum, Patikul town, when commandos of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion and 16th Special Forces Company encountered around 300 Abu Sayyaf militants led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, of Sulu and Furiji Indama of Basilan along with two suspected members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)

Muyuela said 14 other Scout Rangers were wounded in the gunbattle that continued up to early afternoon.

She said that government troops were continuing “law enforcement operations” against the militant group when the fighting erupted.

According to Muyuela, the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf led by Indama were pressured to consolidate with their Sulu comrades as separate operations have been ongoing in Basilan.

Muyuela said the Abu Sayyaf suffered several casualties in the Wednesday encounter as troops were able to locate their locations and ambush them.

She said that five Abu Sayyaf guerrillas have been confirmed killed but their bodies and those wounded were dragged by their fleeing comrades.

Col. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, told the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) that field artillery units and Philippine Air Force MG-520 attack helicopters pounded the militants positions.

Arrojado said they immediately coordinated with the police as well as ordered the different detachments to set up blocking positions and checkpoints to prevent the escape of the fleeing Abu Sayyaf militants.

He said the move was also aimed to prevent the militant group from extricating its wounded comrades.

Muyuela, meanwhile, said the ongoing operation aimed to capture or neutralize Abu Sayyaf leaders like  Hatib Sawadjaan and Indama.

“This peration is a joint effort of the AFP, Philippine National Police and LGU in Sulu to seize lawless elements responsible for the series of kidnappings and other atrocities in the province of Sulu and adjacent areas,” she said.