FIVE Abu Sayyaf bandits, including a mid-level bandit leader, were killed in focused military operations in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, officials said Wednesday, April 24.
Four of the five bandits were killed in an operation coupled with air strikes in the hinterlands of Basilan province while the remaining one, who is a mid-level leader, was killed in Sulu.
Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the military operation was launched early Wednesday at Sitio Gipitan in Bohe Pahu village, Ungkaya Pukan municipality.
Reyeg, who is also the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, said the target of the offensive is the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader Furuji Indama.
He said heavy firefight ensued as the joint forces of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 64th Infantry Battalion, 18th Infantry Battalion and 12th Division Reconnaissance Company (12DRC) swooped down Sitio Gipitan in Bohe Pahu village, Sumisip.
The military official added that air strikes were launched as the Indama-led ASG fled to different directions.
“Our troops are currently on the ground to pin down the Abu Sayyaf who are on the run and are evading military forces,” he said.
He said the troops of the 12DRC recovered the remains of the four slain bandits and three high-powered firearms consisting of an M-16 Armalite rifle, one M-14 rifle and one R4 rifle during clearing operation.
Colonel Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, identified the slain mid-lever leader as Hapidz Abdurahman alias Jihad, who is based in the island town of Pata, Sulu.
Besana said Abdurahman was killed in a clash at 9:38 a.m. Tuesday in Tambulian village, Pata municipality.
He said the troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) were on focused military operation when they clashed with the group of Abdurahman.
Besana said the firefight lasted for about 10 minutes that resulted to the death of Abdurahman, whose remains was recovered by the troops. Also recovered were a watercraft and a Garand rifle
The Westmincom officer said the troops buried the remains of Abdurahman in accordance with the Muslim rites. Abdurahman has standing warrant of arrest for the crime of murder with illegal possession of firearms.
Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Westmincom chief, said the ASG bandits suffered another setback with the death of Abdurahman.
“We are building up our focused and intelligence operations to pursue, pressure, and defeat Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu,” Dela Vega said.
Meanwhile, he said that the sustained military operations of the Joint Task Force Basilan manifest the commitment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in fulfilling its mandate of bringing internal peace and security in the province of Basilan.
“Rest assured that we will continue to abide by the rules of engagement and contain the Abu Sayyaf Group with the assistance of the local government and the community,” Dela Vega added. (SunStar Philippines)