Abu killed, 4 soldiers hurt in fresh Basilan fighting PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 April 2016 13:23

By RICHARD FALCATAN

An Abu Sayyaf militant was killed, while four army soldiers were wounded in fresh fighting that raged from Thursday night up to past midnight in the strife-torn island province of Basilan.

Col. Rolando Bautista, commander of the Philippine Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade based in Basilan, said Friday the firefight comes as troops from the 18th Infantry Battalion pressed the offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants responsible for the death of 20 soldiers  in a bloody encounter in Tipo Tipo town  on April 2.

Bautista described the army’s current move in the troubled island as “intensified counter violent extremism and efforts of the military to protect civilian communities in Basilan.”

Quoting troops at the battle field, Bautista said Thursday’s firefight broke out around 9:40 p.m. and raged for about an hour.

He said there was a short lull and an exchange of fire resumed for two hours till after midnight, after which the body of a slain militant was plucked from the encounter site described as stained with blood all over, an indication the ISIS-aligned group may have suffered many casualties.

Bautista said the body was turned over to proper authorities and later to the family “so that he will be given appropriate burial in accordance with their cultural and religious tradition. “

With the new fatality, he said. Abu Sayyaf death toll is now at 32.

Moreover, the brigade commander said troops scouring the encounter site also found many personal belongings.

Bautista said that four army soldiers who were slightly wounded opted to stay in the battlefield after undergoing first aid treatment.

The army colonel underlined the bravery and dedication of the troops as the slightly wounded soldiers “refused to be evacuated and opted to help in securing vulnerable  communities against terrorist threats.”

Local government officials from different towns in Basilan met with Col. Bautista and other military officers in Ungkaya Pukan, Tipo-Tipo from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday  to discuss the overall situation, device mechanism to protect communities and efficiently implement government aid to affected families and individuals.

“This is part of our continuing collaborative effort between military and civilian authorities to address people’s needs at the short term and to achieve peaceful  resolution of armed conflict at the long term,” Bautista said.

Meanwhile,  a media center is set to be established at the 104th Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan to address the needs of local, nationa and international reporters.