FIVE Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists were killed while dozen others—including 11 soldiers—were wounded as the military pressed its assault Wednesday on enemy positions in Indanan, Sulu, a military spokesman said Thursday.
The latest encounter occurred at 5:15 p.m. in Barangay Bud Taran when members of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion attacked terrorists believed to be holding hostages, said Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command.
“Heavy skirmishes ensued resulting in the wounding of a soldier, while 10 other personnel incurred minor splinter injuries,” Petinglay said.
Casualties were heavier on the enemy side, she added, noting that at least five terrorists were killed and many more were wounded.
Wounded soldiers were airlifted to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital.
Wesmincom commander Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. ordered more troops sent to the area to pursue the fleeing terrorists.
Galvez said the local government units, the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the traditional leaders are helping the government troops in fighting the ASG by providing information.
“Terrorism is a sickening problem that needs all sectors of society’s cooperation for it to be defeated. With the renewed vigor of those who are against it, we are optimistic that we will be able to crush the bandits within six months,” he said.
Last week, the ASG beheaded German captive Jurgen Kantner, 70, after his family failed to deliver ransom for his safe release.
The terrorist group posted video footage of Kantner’s beheading on its website.
This infuriated the public and President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered the military to intensify operations against the terrorist group.
Military officials say more than a dozen local and foreign captives are still in the hands of the ASG.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana described the Abu Sayyaf as “animals.”
“This will feel the wrath of the entire Filipino nation through the might of its armed forces,” Lorenzana said.
Col. Cirilito Sobejana said the Abu Sayyaf fighters who figured in the latest clash were those responsible for the beheading of Kantner.
“Yes, this are the group, comprising more or less 70 members,” Sobejana said.
During the clash, Sobejana said the troops spotted ASG Commander Muamar Askali, also known as Abu Rahmi, a sub-leader of ASG leader Radulan Sahiron, who was behind the beheading of Kantner.
The site of fighting was estimated seven miles away from the outskirts of Buanza town in Sulu where the killing of Kantner took place.
The all-out offensive is being supported by the deployment for the first time of naval gunboats armed with surface-to-surface missiles, Lorenzana said.
The deployment of the gunboats shows the determination of President Duterte to crush the Abu Sayyaf once and for all, he said. With PNA
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