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20 ASG members killed in Basilan


By Hader Glang

At least 20 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were killed by government security forces before dawn Thursday in combined airstrikes and indirect fire in far-flung areas in the town of Sumisip, Basilan.

Col. Juvymax Uy, Commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said heavy bloodstains were found in the vicinity where an improvised explosive went off, inflicting minor injuries on two soldiers.

According to Uy, the Abu Sayyaf got a taste of the Philippine Airforce’s F/A 50 after the jet fighter delivered its deadly payload, inflicting immediate fatalities on the terrorists.

He said the airstrikes were immediately followed with artillery and mortar fire, inflicting additional casualties.

The military launched the operation following information from former Abu Sayyaf members and local residents regarding the group’s temporary encampment in the area of Barangay (village) Pamatsaken.

Armed with intelligence reports from Abu Sayyaf surrenderees, the local populace and the local government units, the army brigade was able to track down the group’s temporary encampment, said Uy.

Just before dawn, operating troops managed to close in on  the temporary enemy harbor in the village, believed to be hiding one of most-wanted Abu Sayyaf subleaders, Furuji Indama.

“Equipped with night fighting capabilities, our troops were able to inch within a hundred meters of the enemy under the cover of darkness,” Lt. Col. Andrew Bacala Jr, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, said in a text message.

According to Bacala, despite several improvised explosives laid by the bandits, the special forces managed to completely seize the encampment before 10 in the morning Thursday.

Seizure of the site reveals makeshift tents capable of accommodating MOL 30-40 Abu Sayaff bandits across 150 meters of hilltop,” he added.

The troops also recovered several foodstuffs and explosive components capable of making 30 IEDs. Three live IEDs were also recovered by Special Forces Demolition Specialists.

A firefight followed as Rangers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion caught up with the fleeing bandits some 300 meters from the seized encampment.

“Our troops were able to cordon the enemy due to the accurate and timely indirect fires and close air support delivered by our Artillery and the Philippine Airforce,” Uy said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westerm Mindanao Command chief, said that they are seeing the end of the terror group as its leaders are taken down, “their encampment seized, support system crumbled, their morale very low, and the continuing surrender of their subleaders and members.”

Galvez said it will only be a matter of time before the Abu Sayyaf reaches the tipping point and eventually becomes crumbled and defeated.

Just four  days ago, seven Abu Sayyaf Group members surrendered to elements of Joint Task Force Sulu under the Western Mindanao Command.

The surrenderers also turned over an M16 rifle, an M14 rifle, a Garand rifle, a Caliber .38 pistol, and a Caliber .45 pistol.

They are followers of sub-leaders Sansibar Bensio and Tomas Idjas, who are under the late subleader Alhabsy Misaya.

As of this report, there are a total of 48 Abu Sayyaf bandits who have laid down their arms. Of this number, 12 have yielded to the government forces in Sulu, 25 in Basilan, and 11 in Tawi-Tawi.

“We expect more Abu Sayyaf to surrender this upcoming weeks as our ground units have been receiving more intentions from ASG members to surrender,” Galvez said.

“This strongly manifests that as long as the local government unit, the populace, the traditional and religious leaders, and every one who has a stake for peace will work together against terror and lawlessness, we will surely defeat the Abu Sayyaf in due time,” he added. Hader Glang.

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