Elite army troopers killed five notorious Abu Sayyaf bandits and wounded five others in two separate encounters between the terrorist group and elite army troopers in the hinterlands of Patikul, Sulu midnight Thursday.
The government side, however, lost one soldier while five others were injured in the clash that took place in the boundary of barangays Tanum and Liang in Patikul.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the Army’s Western Mindanao Command troops of the 45th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Rhenante Salvador said they were on an intensified operation when it encountered around 20 ASG members under sub-leader Almujer Yaddah.
Dela Vega said the death of the five Abu Sayyaf was confirmed on an information reported to the military by a reliable source on the ground.
Hours after the fighting in Barangay Tanum and Liang, another encounter erupted between troops of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion and a separate group of around 20 bandits in Brgy. Tabu-Bato, Maimbung, Sulu.
Dela Vega said scout ranger troops led by Major Leoncito Grezula were on combat operations when they chanced upon the terrorist elements under Almadjan Sahidjuan, alias Apoh Mike, triggering a running gunbattle.
The fighting resulted to the death of a bandit, whose body was found after the encounter, and the recovery of an M16 rifle.
“My salute to our fallen soldier and my prayers for the other two who are currently recuperating at Camp Navarro Station Hospital,” De Vega said.
“With the support from the local government and the populace, the sickening problem of terrorism will soon be put to an end. The intensification of the military operations is buoyed by the renewed vigor of those who are against violent extremism,” Dela Vega added.
Meanwhile, eight ASG bandits were forced to yield to the military following a relentless search and destroy operations against the terrorist group which remained in hiding in the forested mountains of Sulu.
Dela Vega said the eight Abus surrendered to the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu under Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo last Monday.
The ASG rebels, according to the military, appeared exhausted by the sustained military operations in Western Mindanao.
The bandits were operating separately in Sulu and Basilan.
Dela Vega said the surrender of ASG members was made possible through the combined efforts by the local government and local officials in Basilan and Sulu in support to the all-out campaign against terrorism.
The latest surrender brings to 135 bandits who have surrendered,—65 of whom
Came from Sulu and 63 from Basilan, five from Tawi-Tawi and two from Zamboanga City from January to July this year.
“The record-breaking achievements of our Joint Task Forces inspire us to strive more in imposing pressure until the last bandit will be taken down,” Dela Vega said.