5 killed, 10 wounded in Sulu clash-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Sunday, October 28, 2012
ZAMBOANGA CITY - Three soldiers and two suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while 10 others were wounded in a clash in the hinterlands of Sulu, military officials said Sunday.
Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said the clash broke out around 6:30 a.m. Sunday in the village of Bakong, Patikul, Sulu.
The fighting continued sporadically through the day in the mountainous hinterlands of Patikul town, where the Abu Sayyaf movement has survived in jungle encampments despite years of US-backed Philippine military offensives.
The identities of the slain troops and the 10 wounded were not immediately known except that they belong to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 (MBLT-6).
Cabangbang said one of the two slain Abu Sayyaf bandits was identified only as a certain Kaisar.
He said the troops were conducting security patrol and verifying the reported presence of kidnap victims in the area when they clashed with undetermined number of bandits.
Newly installed Wesmincom chief Major General Rey Ardo has ordered to send "naval and air assets" to support the troops that clash with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Ardo, who assumed command on Wednesday, also ordered to ensure that the casualties are all recovered and those wounded are taken to the nearest medical facility.
The bandits who figured in the clash were followers of Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron and Tahil Sali, an ally of Sahiron, Cabangbang said.
He did not identify the kidnap victims sighted in Barangay Bakong, Patikul.
However, among those believed to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf are Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell, 57, and wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland, and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland.
Rodwell was kidnapped in December of last year from his home in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, while Horn and Vinciguerre were kidnapped in February this year in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.
There were no updates on the fate of the hostages as the government has imposed a news blackout on the kidnapping incidents.
While Abu Sayyaf abductions still occur, they are far fewer today than the massive kidnappings that terrorized Sulu and outlying provinces in early 2000 when the brutal group still had many commanders and had strong ties with terrorist groups like the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah.
The militant Islamist movement has also received support in the past from al-Qaeda.
The Abu Sayyaf — or Bearer of the Sword — was founded in 1991 in predominantly Muslim Basilan province near Sulu. With an unwieldy collective of preachers and outlaws, it vowed to wage jihad, or holy war, but lost its key leaders early in combat, sending it on a violent path of extremism and criminality.
The US military deployed troops to the southern Philippines in 2002 to provide combat training, intelligence and drone surveillance to Filipino troops battling the Abu Sayyaf, which has an armed force of nearly 400 fighters.
The American deployment then was sparked by the Abu Sayyaf's kidnapping of three Americans, two of whom were killed while in the custody of the militants. (AP/Sunnex)