TWO Abu Sayyaf bandits, including the last remaining leader involved in the Sipadan kidnapping, were killed in a clash in the hinterlands of Sulu, military officials said Wednesday, March 20.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the firefight broke out at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday in Upper Binuang village, Talipao town.
Pabayo said the firefight ensued after the troops from the Army’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion launched a combat operation in response to the reported presence of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the hinterland village.
He said the clash lasted for about 10 minutes after which the bandits fled to different directions.
Pabayo identified the slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader as Angah Ajid. The other, who was a follower of Ajid, was not immediately identified.
He said Ajid was the last remaining Abu Sayyaf leader involved in the kidnapping of 21 people, including 10 Europeans, on April 23, 2000 from the dive resort island of Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits herded the hostages to the hinterlands of Sulu and were released in batches following payment of huge amount of ransom.
Pabayo said the troops have also recovered an M-14 rifle, an M-16 Armalite rifle attached with an M-203 grenade launcher, and several rounds of ammunition.
Pabayo said the series of firefight in Sulu has been the result of the growing support of the civilians to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“The people of Sulu are tired of the atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf in their communities. Your Joint Task Force Sulu will remain steadfast in fulfilling its mandate of bringing lasting peace in this part of our country,” Pabayo said.
The military continues to launch its offensives to neutralize Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province of Sulu.
Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the troops are relentlessly pursuing the Abu Sayyaf bandits to constrict their movement and “leaving them in despair.”
“As community support amassed, military mounts its offensives to pressure and to defeat Abu Sayyaf militants in the area,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)