11 Abus killed, 17 soldiers wounded in Sulu firefight PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 August 2016 11:55

By RICHARD FALCATAN

Eleven Abu Sayyaf members were killed, while 17 soldiers were wounded  Friday in the first encounter since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to destroy the ISIS-linked group that beheaded an 18-year-old hostage Wednesday in Jolo island.

Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo M. Dela Cruz, commander, Western Mindanao Command, told reporters that troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu engaged in a 45-minute firefight with some 100 Abu Sayyaf members Barangay Bunkaong, Patikul town, Sulu Friday morning, leaving six militants dead with their bodies recovered by soldiers.

Dela Cruz quoted reports from the battle ground as saying an undetermined number of the militants were wounded in the clash.

Among those killed was Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Mohammad Said, alias Ama Maas, who has five standing warrants of arrest for murder. He was tagged as involved in the kidnapping of three foreigners in the luxurious Samal Island resort off Davao City. Two of those foreigners were Canadians who were beheaded separately recently. Their Filipina companion Maritess Flor was released and Norwegian Kjartan Sikkengstad is still under captivity.

The wounded soldiers were undergoing treatment in Sulu and will later be flown to Zamboanga City for further medication. Other slightly wounded opted to stay and continue the pursuit operations.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr. spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, later added that aside from the six earlier reported, “five enemies were also killed by troops in the focused military operations”.

“Total 11 ASG killed,” he underlined

Gen. Dela Cruz said: “Our troops are extremely motivated, they know that this fight against terrorism is  greater than themselves. The truth  is 17 of our soldiers were wounded, but 10 of them who suffered slight wounds opted to stay in the battle ground so the fight would continue. That is how serious we are take this mission especially coming from the Commander in Chief (President Rodrigo Duterte). He gave a specific order. The mission is clear. Seek and destroy the ASG Abu Sayyaf Sayyaf Ggroup. By all means  that’s what we are doing and we will not stop until it’s done,” Dela Cruz said.

Responding to reports of the beheading, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his directive to the military to “destroy” the group.

“My orders to the police and armed forces against enemies of the state: seek them out in their lairs and destroy them... The Abu Sayyaf, destroy them, period,” he told a press conference in Davao City, where he served 22 years as mayor.

The Abu Sayyaf It is among two militant groups in the south who have pledged allegiance to ISIS prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the country’s biggest Moro group that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict. - Richard Falcatan