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Kin of ASG leader Hapilon killed in Basilan encounter

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A kin of the Abu Sayyaf terror group leader and three other members have been killed in a gun battle with security forces in the southern province of Basilan, according to the military.

The cousin of Isnilon Hapilon identified as Mobin Kulin, a.k.a. "Mulawin", was slain during a joint law enforcement operations in Tapiantana Island at around 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said in statement.

"Amid the ensuing offensives launched by the ground troops, four notorious members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, including the kin of top leader Isnilon Hapilon, were killed in the joint conduct of law enforcement operations of the Joint Task Force Basilan and the police in Basilan," she added.

Petinglay said combined elements of the military and the police engaged in a 30-minute armed confrontation with 15 notorious Abu Sayyaf members, killing Hapilon's cousin and three of his followers based on the cadavers recovered by the ground troops in the encounter sites.

Several assorted high-powered firearms and war materials, including a Barret, a Rocket-Propelled Grenade with three live ammunitions and 12 Grenade rifles of the bandits had been recovered by government forces.

Authorites taggef Kulin as an active and hardcore Abu Sayyaf member from Lantawan, Basilan who was involved in the Lamitan siege and Dos Palmas incidents in the province.

The remains of the slain Abu Sayyaf members had been turned over to the Basilan Police Provincial Office for appropriate action, identification, and disposition.

Pursuit is continuously being conducted by the ground troops to thwart the extrication of the bandits.

Major General Carlito Galvez, Jr., WestMinCom chief, said all-out offensives are being conducted by the Joint Task Force Basilan with the support and coordination of the local government, police, and civilians in the province against the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

He blamed Hapilon's group as behind the bombings, extortion activities, and kidnappings in Basilan.

"The entire command is more motivated to go after and finish-off the group within the next six months or less," he added.

Last month, Hapilon fled to Lanao province in central Mindanao to join the Maute group. He was reported to have been seriously injured in airstrike launched by the military against the local terror group in Butig town, also in Lanao.

Also Tuesday, the main Abu Sayyaf leader was also injured in an encounter with troops in Poona Babayao, Lanao del Sur.

Hapilon was indicted in Washington for his involvement in the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans in the Philippines, and has a $5-million bounty on his head from the US government.

Security analysts say the Daesh or ISIS has recognized him as its leader in Southeast Asia and “emir” or leader of the militant group in the Philippines. -- Hader Glang




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