MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Saturday, November 17, that 5 soldiers were killed and 23 others were injured while troops were trying to rescue hostages from terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
The soldiers were searching for hostages taken by the Abu Sayyaf group when the gunmen attacked them on the island of Jolo, Sulu, on Friday, November 16, regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana told reporters.
“The effort is part of our mission to rescue the remaining hostages,” Besana said.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose alliance of several hundred armed members formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.
Friday’s clash was one of the deadliest since an Abu Sayyaf faction joined the Maute group in seizing Marawi City in 2017, leading to a 5-month battle that claimed more than 1,100 lives.
The Abu Sayyaf is now believed to hold “less than 10” hostages, Besana said.
The soldiers who survived Friday’s ambush did not see any hostages during the 90-minute clash near the town of Patikul, Besana said.
Abu Sayyaf began in 2016 to kidnap sailors in the waters between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The terrorists have also raided and taken hostages from resorts in the southern Philippines and neighboring Malaysia.
Most of the hostages have been ransomed off for huge amounts of money and several were beheaded, including two Canadian tourists in 2016. A Dutch birdwatcher abducted on a nearby island in 2012 is believed to be among those still in Abu Sayyaf’s hands.
The Dutchman’s Swiss colleague escaped in 2014 after grabbing a kidnapper’s machete and killing him. – Rappler.com